Opposition demand recalling parliament for vote of no confidence on Prime Minister Boris Johnson … writes Anasudhin Azeez
Opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats seek immediate recalling of Parliament to discuss the Partygate fines and cost of living as inflation crosses 7 per cent.
Opposition parties accused Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak of lying to the public about their attendance at the Downing Street gathering. Both Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak apologised, but rule out resignation.
A spokesperson for the prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, said she had accepted the police’s findings and “apologises unreservedly.”
Mr Johnson said he felt “an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people”, while the chancellor said he was “focused on delivering for the British people”.
Mr Johnson said that he accepted “in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better” from him.
He claimed the event he was fined for attending – a gathering in the Cabinet Room to mark his birthday – was “brief” and lasted “less than 10 minutes”.
“In all frankness, at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules,” he added. “But, of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “This is the first time in our country’s history that a Prime Minister has been found guilty of breaking the law – at a time when Britain made unimaginable sacrifices. And then lied about it. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have dishonoured their office. They must resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for Parliament to be recalled immediately so MPs can hold a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
“The country cannot have criminals and liars leading our Government, especially at a time of national and international crisis,” said Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Leader. “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak took the country’s sacrifices for granted, while they broke the law to party in Downing Street. They are not fit to hold office. If they had a shred of decency, they would resign.
“Parliament should be recalled immediately so that MPs can hold a vote of no confidence. Conservative MPs must do their patriotic duty and kick these criminals out of Government once and for all.”
The SNP also led calls for Parliament to return from its Easter break so the PM and chancellor could face questions from MPs. But a raft of cabinet ministers publicly back Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak – including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said they were “delivering for Britain on many fronts”.
Deputy Prime minister Dominic Rabb said: The PM has accepted the Met’s decision & apologised. I fully support the PM & Chancellor as they focus on maintaining the UK’s international leadership against Russian brutality in Ukraine, and delivering our recovery from the pandemic for the British people at home.
Meanwhile, Nazir Afzal, former chief of the Crown Prosecution Service in the North West said: This is very poor judgment by the person who is meant more than anyone to uphold the rule of law. Silence was a better option. Next time a criminal accepts the Met’s decision & apologises, I doubt very much the Lord chancellor will be accepting the apology.
The fines come as part of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police into illegal parties held in Downing Street and across Whitehall during Covid lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. The force is looking into 12 parties overall, and has already issued more than 50 fines, with more expected to come.
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said the two leading Tories had “insulted the millions of people who faithfully followed the rules”.
Plaid Cymru’s Commons leader Liz Saville Roberts accused Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak of having an “arrogant sense of exceptionalism and a belief in their own entitlement”.
“If they have any honour they will resign,” she said.
Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said that both had broken “the very laws they made to try and keep this country safe in a pandemic and must now resign”.