Partygate: Boris Johnson claims ‘it did not occur’ to him that he was breaking rules#
Tory ministers have rallied around Boris Johnson after he was found by police to have broken his own Covid rules, making him the first prime minister to be hit with criminal sanctions while in office.
His cabinet, including Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg and foreign secretary Liz Truss, lined up to defend Mr Johnson as he faced resignation calls after being fined over a party held on 19 June 2020 to mark his 56th birthday, with several using Russia’s war against Ukraine to move on from the issue.
Earlier, Mr Johnson said it “did not occur” to him that the gathering might be breaching Covid rules, while Rishi Sunak said he understood that “for figures in public office, the rules must be applied stringently in order to maintain public confidence”.
However, a YouGov poll revealed that 57 per cent of voters feel the prime minister and chancellor should resign and about 75 per cent responders believe that Mr Johnson knowingly lied to Parliament about whether he broke lockdown rules, with just 12 per cent saying he did not .
Boris Johnson’s Partygate troubles are far from over
The first Partygate fines at the top of government have landed. No one has resigned.
Yet questions are building over how the cumulative effect of more fixed penalty notices might be managed by senior figures in government, and the wider Conservative Party.
Boris Johnson plans to blame his Partygate mishaps on misguided assurances from his erstwhile team in Downing Street that he had been acting in accordance with Covid laws, The Independent has learned. He does so as the first sitting prime minister to break his own laws.
Our economics editor, Anna Isaachas the full analysis below:
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 07:32
Tory MP claims Boris Johnson ‘did not break the law’
Tory MP Shailesh Vara claims Boris Johnson didn’t break the law, despite the PM being fined by the Met Police for attending his lockdown birthday bash.
Speaking on LBC this morning the MP, Mr Vara said that Downing Street staff were simply marking the birthday of the prime minister in an event that lasted “no longer than nine minutes.”
“My view is the prime minister has accepted that the police have come to this conclusion, they’ve fined the prime minister and the chancellor,” Mr Vara said. “I accept the view of the police,” he added.
When pressed, however, Mr Vara struggled to say that Boris Johnson broke the law after being handed a Covid fine.
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 07:17
ICYMI: Johnson offers ‘full apology’ for breaking Covid laws
Boris Johnson has offered a “full apology” and confirmed he has paid a fixed penalty fine for attending a birthday party in Downing Street in June 2020, but insisted that it “did not occur to me” at the time that he had broken the rules .
Defending himself against accusations that he misled parliament over parties at No 10, Mr Johnson insisted that he “spoke in completely good faith” when he told the House of Commons that no Covid rules were broken.
Asked if he will quit, he replied: “I want to be able to get on and deliver the mandate that I have.”
Confirming that he had been fined over the birthday party – at which a close ally previously said he was “ambushed with a cake” – Mr Johnson said: “I’ve paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology and in the spirit of openness and humility I want to be completely clear about what happened on that date.”
Namita Singh13 April 2022 07:03
Renewed calls demanding PM’s resignation
Boris Johnson is facing fresh calls for his resignation after he became the first sitting prime minister in UK history to be found by police to have broken the law.
Labor leader Keir Starmer said that the fines showed that the PM and his chancellor Rishi Sunak had lied repeatedly about the Partygate scandal, dishonouring both their offices and the sacrifices of the British people. He said: “They have to go.”
His call for their resignation was echoed by former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and by representatives of families bereaved by the pandemic, who said that the “shameless” prime minister had “taken us all for mugs” and caused untill hurt to those who lost loved one is.
While the prime minister immediately paid the fine and offered a “full apology”, he gave no indication that he was considering leaving his position.
He acknowledged public anger at his failure to observe restrictions which he had imposed on the entire nation and said voters “had the right to expect better” from him.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the details.
Namita Singh13 April 2022 06:58
Recap: Why were fines issued?
The FPNs relate to parties held at No 10 while London, and the rest of the UK, was under strict lockdown regulations.
Downing Street has now confirmed that Mr Johnson’s fine relates to a birthday gathering held for him while severe Covid restrictions were imposed on the public. The event, at which a Tory MP infamously suggested Mr Johnson had been “ambushed with a cake”, was also attended by Rishi Sunak and Carrie Johnson.
A spokesperson for No 10 said: “The Metropolitan Police have now explained that the FPN issued to the PM will be in relation to the following incident: ‘On 19 June 2020, at the Cabinet Room 10 Downing Street, between 2pm and 3pm, you participated in a gathering of two or more people indoors’.”
Police made clear that further fines may also be issued to those already penalised, suggesting they are working through cases event by event rather than individual by individual.
Read the details in this report:
Namita Singh13 April 2022 06:45
Does the prime minister now have a criminal record?
Following the fixed-penalty notices (FNP) issued to Boris Johnson, his chancellor Rishi Sunak and wife Carrie Johnson for breaking Covid laws during lockdown, speculations are rife whether the PM will now hold a criminal record.
Despite the unprecendented development, in what has become the worst scandal to hit Conservative Party under the premiership of Mr Johnson, it appears that he will not come away with a criminal record.
As the Criminal Records Office (Acro) explains on its website: “Fixed penalty notices issued for offenses under coronavirus legislation are non-recordable, so whether an FPN is paid or contested, it will not be recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC) .”
However, the government agency adds that what might happen is an offender’s details are “held by the relevant [local police] strength”.
Read this report by sam hancock for details.
Namita Singh13 April 2022 06:42
Tory MP Manufacturer defends PM by claiming ‘many nurses and teachers’ also broke law
Mr Fabricator compared Mr Johnson’s actions, for which he was fined by police on Tuesday, as being like “many teachers and nurses who after a very, very long shift would tend to go back to the staff room and have a quiet drink”. He added: “Which is more or less what he has done.”
Tory MP Michael Manufacturer claims ‘many nurses and teachers’ also broke law
When asked about the source of his remark which suggested that teachers and nurses had also engaged in lockdown-breaking activities, Mr Manufacturer told BBC News: “Well, I do know of some who did and, you know, its quite natural. I wasn’t saying they were having a party – I am not saying that Boris Johnson was having a party.”
Read this report by Emily Atkinson.
Namita Singh13 April 2022 06:12
PM intends to blame Partygate mishaps on misguided advice from his former team
Boris Johnson plans to blame his Partygate mishaps on misguided assurances from his erstwhile team in Downing Street that he had been acting in accordance with Covid laws, The Independent has learned.
Attempts will be made to project him as a prime minister who was focused and busy at a time of crisis and barely had time to think. The first signs of this strategy appeared in his statement on Tuesday evening. As the prime minister outlined how sorry he was, he was also clear just how busy he was.
“And amongst all these engagements, on a day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the cabinet room shortly after 2pm, lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes, ” the prime minister said.
The PR effort will not seek to suggest that the fines are trivial — should they start to mount up — but it will try to place the Partygate scandal against a backdrop of the threat posed to liberal democracy in the west by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sources familiar with Downing Street operations said.
Read this review by Anna Isaac who breaks down the strategy deployed by Downing Street to tackle the mounting public backlash against the PM over the Partygate scandal.
Namita Singh13 April 2022 06:01
Snap poll: Three-quarters of voters feel PM deliberately lied in parliament
Amidst a wave of negative press for the Conservatives around partygate, there also seems to be shift of public perception against Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
A new snap poll by YouGov revealed that about 57 per cent of voters feel that the prime minister and chancellor should resign from their posts, as against 30 per cent and 29 per cent respectively who said that they should continue.
For Mr Johnson, the poll represents a 10 per cent point increase in those thinking he should leave office, as compared to an 8 March poll, when about 47 per cent said he should resign.
About 75 per cent of responders believe that the prime minister knowingly lied in parliament about breaking lockdown rules, as compared to 12 per cent who felt otherwise.
Namita Singh13 April 2022 05:40
‘There is a war on’: Tory MPs using Russia’s war on Ukraine to defend PM’s law breaking
Tory MPs lined up to defend Boris Johnson, as they attempted to use Russia’s war against Ukraine to move the conversation on from his law-breaking and stressed the importance of him remaining in office.
Among those rallying behind the PM were Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg and foreign secretary Liz Truss. Responding to Mr Johnson’s apology, in which he claimed “it did not occur” to him that he was breaching his own lockdown rules, Mr Rees-Mogg tweeted: “This ought to close this matter. There is a war on and the prime minister, supported by the chancellor, provides the leadership the nation needs.”
Foreign secretary Liz Truss said: “The prime minister has apologized and taken responsibility for what happened in Downing Street.
Oliver Dowden, co-chairman of the Conservative party, also showed his support for the prime minister, saying he is “fully behind” him “getting on with the job” at a time when the UK is facing an energy crisis and dealing with the conflict in Ukraine.
Read the details in this report by Aisha Rimi.
Namita Singh13 April 2022 05:24