Boris Johnson’s interview in full: what the PM said on National Insurance, Afghanistan and the Sue Gray report

This is the transcript of the Prime Minister’s latest interview - where he was asked about Sue Gray’s report, National Insurance and the evacuation of pets from Afghanistan

Boris Johnson has vowed to publish the official report into parties held in Downing Street during lockdown “in full”.

The Prime Minister insisted he was not responsible for any delay with the inquiry and did not know when the report by civil servant Sue Gray would be released.

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In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Johnson, who was visiting north Wales, also denied claims that he assisted in the approval of the evacuation of animals from Afghanistan while Kabul fell to the Taliban.

He called the allegations “total rhubarb”.

His denial comes after a whistleblower leaked an email that showed a Foreign Office official saying in August that the Prime Minister had just “authorised” the animals’ rescue.

Here we take a look at what the Prime Minister said about Ms Gray’s report, the National Insurance rise, social care and evacuating animals from Afghanistan.

Transcript of the Prime Minister’s interview

Reporter: Isn’t the single biggest thing you could do to help people would be to put off the National Insurance rise?

PM: “Let me just tell you about that, and why it’s so important that we raise the funding to cope with the Covid backlogs, the damage that Covid has done, particularly to our NHS, and every penny of this goes to tackling our NHS backlogs and fixing social care.”

Reporter: Sure, but you’ll be taking money from people who are working, you’ll be taxing working.

PM: “Every penny will go towards fixing the Covid backlogs and also social care, and the two things are connected. Don’t forget, if you talk, if you go around hospitals as I have done a lot in the last 18 months – more, two years – so much of the problem is caused and aggravated, made worse, by the numbers of people that are waiting in hospital that can be discharged, but they can’t be let out of hospital because we can’t find the right package of social care, and it does need to be sorted out.”

Reporter: But from working people? You’ll be taxing people who are in employment, which is what you’re trying to help.

PM: “What we’re doing is helping people into work. We’ve got record employment now. We’ve got record low youth unemployment.

“The difficulty is actually this economy is going so well post-Covid that we’re short of hundreds of thousands of pairs of hands to do vital jobs. So the point of Way to Work is to shorten the period when people are off work, shorten the period when people are feeling that sense of low self-esteem maybe, because they haven’t gotten a job – get them into work and help to get the economy moving and, that way, help to deal with some of the pressures on the economy.”

Reporter: Just to clarify, the National Insurance increase will go ahead as planned?

PM: “It is absolutely vital that we fund… it is absolutely vital, and I hope that people understand, we have to fund the Covid backlogs, we have to fix social care. Every penny will go to that end.

“I think people do understand. Look, I don’t think there’s a family in this country that hasn’t been affected by the Covid backlogs in one way or the other. I bet you know somebody who’s had their treatment or scan delayed because of what we went through over the last 18 months.

“We had to spend over £400 billion keeping the British economy going during the lockdowns, we’ve got now to move forward, we’ve got to fix the Covid backlogs, we’ve got to sort out social care. I think that’s the right thing to do.”

Reporter: I have to ask you about two other matters. Are you delaying the Sue Gray report?

PM: “Absolutely not. But you’ll just have to… I’m afraid you’ve got to let the independent inquiries go on. ”

Reporter: When do you think it will be published?

PM: “I wish… I can’t really say any more than what I said yesterday about that. I’m really…”

Reporter: Will you publish it in full?

PM: “Of course.”

Reporter: The report, as exactly as Sue Gray hands to you, that will be made public without any redactions?

PM: “I can’t go beyond what I said yesterday, but I stick completely by what I’ve said to the House of Commons.

“But what I hope people understand is that while we wait for all that to go on, we’ve got to get on and the Government is getting on with our work.

“So it is clearing the Covid backlogs but also making sure that we help to fix the cost of living crisis, help to address the issues with inflation by helping to move people off welfare into work with the Way to Work.”

Reporter: Did you authorise evacuating animals out of Kabul over people?

PM: “No, that is… this whole thing is total rhubarb. I was very proud of what our armed services did with Op Pitting and it was an amazing thing to move 15,000 people out of Kabul in the way that we did.

“I thought it was also, additionally, very good that we were able to help those vets who came out as well. But I can tell you that the military always…”

Reporter: But you didn’t intervene?

PM: “Absolutely not. The military always prioritised human beings, and that was quite right. And I think we should be incredibly proud of Op Pitting and what it achieved.”

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