Boris Johnson is “a risk to the country”, Labour have said, after he admitted meeting an ex-KGB agent without officials present.
The controversy has fuelled opposition demands for the prime minister to quit immediately following his resignation as Tory leader and not hang on in Downing Street until his replacement is elected.
An investigation has been called for after Mr Johnson told MPs he “certainly” met Russian oligarch and former Evening Standard proprietor, Alexander Lebedev, in Italy unaccompanied while foreign secretary.
Answering an urgent question in the Commons this week, Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford said after meeting Mr Lebedev in 2018, Mr Johnson reported it to officials “as required”.
But just minutes later she clarified her comments saying the prime minister “thinks” he mentioned the meeting to civil servants.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner pointed out at the time this “appeared to contradict” Mr Johnson’s claims to the Commons liaison committee on Wednesday about officials being informed of the meeting.
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Rayner said: “We had this week the prime minister admitting that he met with the former KGB spy in secret without any of his officials with him.
“Now that is a national security risk and people want answers.
“He was foreign secretary and he shouldn’t be doing that, he knows he shouldn’t be doing that and yet he’s done it.
“He’s just completely disregarded the rules and that’s why he can’t carry on, because he is a risk to the country.
“If he lies to the British public, if he doesn’t do the right thing and follow the rules, even his own rules that he put in place, then that’s not acceptable.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings has also claimed the prime minister met Mr Lebedev at the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020, without officials.
It comes amid an inquiry by the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee over the appointment to the House of Lords in 2020 of Mr Lebedev’s son, Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the London Evening Standard and a shareholder in The Independent.
The prime minister has repeatedly denied he intervened to ensure Lord Lebedev was offered a peerage despite being warned by British intelligence the move could pose a security threat.
The peer, whose full title is Baron Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia, has said he has “nothing to hide” and backed the publication advice linked to his appointment.