Boris Johnson, Carrie Johnson and Rishi Sunak are to receive fixed penalty notices for attending lockdown parties, having been found by police to have broken the law. Isabel Hardman at the Spectator has more.
The police fines for breaking Covid laws, which [Johnson and Sunak] created, throw everything around the Prime Minister and the Chancellor into the air. Previously, many Tory MPs had said this would be a resigning matter for a serving PM to be found to have broken the law.
A No. 10 spokesperson confirmed the fines, saying: “The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices.”
The Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson has also been fined. A spokesperson for Mrs Johnson said: “In the interests of transparency, Mrs Johnson can confirm she has been notified that she will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice. She has not yet received any further details about the nature of the FPN.”
The Prime Minister has now not only been found by police to have broken the law, but he also misled Parliament about the matter, saying he had been assured that there was no party. Now we know the police have concluded that on at least one occasion there was a party and that Johnson attended it.
What will Tory MPs do now? Parliament is in recess at the moment, which makes it harder for them to organise an immediate response. But what it does mean is that MPs will face the reaction of their constituents. Remember that it was the fury within constituency parties and among local voters that tipped many Conservatives into calling for Johnson to resign when the row reached its height.
Keir Starmer has of course called on Johnson and Sunak to resign: “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign.”
On the matter of misleading Parliament, Boris may try to argue that just because the police have concluded what he attended was a party, doesn’t mean he was told it was a party or understood it as such at the time. It seems unlikely to wash though.
It makes Boris Johnson the first Prime Minister in history to have been found to have broken the law. Which is probably because no other Prime Minister faced laws banning private gatherings and parties. But as many have pointed out, he has only himself to blame for creating such ludicrous, draconian laws.
For lockdown sceptics there’s a strong argument for keeping Johnson in office as he would find it politically very difficult in light of this to impose another lockdown, and he has committed to a ‘Living with Covid’ strategy. He and his colleagues who wrote the lockdown rules have also shown that they did not believe their own crap and had no fear of the virus which they were telling everyone else to cower in their homes over.
On the other hand, Boris recently said he would impose another lockdown if it “saved lives”. Would a replacement be better or worse? Sometimes it’s better to stick with the devil you know.
Worth reading in full.