On April 21st 2021, the Scottish National Party’s leader in the Commons, Ian Blackford MP, asked the Prime Minister whether he would publish “all personal exchanges” about Covid-19 contracts in which he had been involved.
This was a reference to a series of texts between Mr Johnson and Sir James Dyson, which had been published by the BBC earlier that day. In these texts, the Prime Minister promised to address an aspect of the tax system, which Sir James was concerned might affect some Dyson staff who worked on the ventilator project.
In response to Mr Blackford’s question, Mr Johnson said: “Of course, there is absolutely nothing to conceal about this. I am happy to share all the details with the House, as indeed I have shared them with my officials, immediately.”
Two days later, on 23 April, Mr Johnson was again asked by a journalist: “Are you going to publish your communications as you said you would, with James Dyson?” To this, the Prime Minister said: “Indeed. I think that’s happening today.”
Number 10 did publish a statement on the matter that day. However, it did not include “all the details” or any actual messages, as the Prime Minister had said it would. Instead, it was an account of what happened.
However, this is not the promise that the Prime Minister originally made.
Johnson did not stick to his original promise and his later comments were misleading. His misleading statement remains on the Commons record in defiance of the Ministerial Code.