Partygate: Boris Johnson claims ‘it did not occur’ to him that he was breaking rules#
The prime minister is “human” and humans “sometimes make mistakes”, the transport secretary has said as he defended Boris Johnson.
When asked on Sky News how the prime minister can “possibly remain in office”, Grant Shapps said: “Everyone is human, people sometimes make mistakes.
“The question I suppose, your question goes to the heart of, you know, did he set out to do this? Was it something that was done with malice, with intent?
“And the answer is of course, is no. It’s something that happened in error, and as I have said, I’ve spoken to him, he is incredibly embarrassed by the whole thing.
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 both resisted calls to resign.
Show latest update
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak do not understand how ‘deeply offensive’ lockdown breaches are
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak do not seem to understand how “deeply offensive” their lockdown breaches are.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Reeves said: “Fresh leadership would mean that we will have a government that could concentrate on the issues that we need to focus on as a country.”
Asked if Mr Johnson‘s claim that he unknowingly broke the rules was a sufficient explanation, Ms Reeves said: “No, it would not do because the prime minister still at this stage, even after receiving this fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police, is still unable to say what people, especially those who have made huge sacrifices in the pandemic, want him to say – is that he was wrong, he did something that was wrong, he understands that, he understood that he has lied to Parliament and lied to the country.
“But he is still obfuscating and saying, oh he still didn’t really realise he was breaking the rules and he just happened to be in this room at the time… It’s just not good enough.
“People have never made, collectively or personally, the sacrifices that were made during the pandemic outside of wartime and the prime minister and the chancellor still don’t seem to understand how deeply offensive it is, especially to those who lost loved ones, or who were not there for the birth of their child, or for the death of a loved one.”
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 08:45
Watch: Boris Johnson is ‘incredibly embarrassed’ by fine, says minister
Boris Johnson is ‘incredibly embarrassed’ by fine, says minister
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 08:30
‘Liars and lawbreakers’ – UK papers react to PM’s refusal to quit
The prime minister’s apology over partygate and his refusal to quit prompted a mixed response from the press, as it emerged that Boris Johnson was the first leader to be hit with criminal sanctions while in office.
The PM, his wife Carrie and the chancellor all apologised on Tuesday and confirmed they had paid fines imposed by the Metropolitan Police over a party held on 19 June 2020 to mark Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday.
Speaking to broadcasters at Chequers, 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”.
Read the full story below for reaction from UK newspapers:
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 08:24
Partygate: Timeline of government gatherings as more fines issued
Boris Johnson is under intense pressure over Partygate again, after he and his chancellor Rishi Sunak were handed fixed penalty notice fines by the Metropolitan Police.
Scotland Yard announced more than 50 fines for government staff members over law-breaking events held at Downing Street and Whitehall during the Covid pandemic.
Having initially said in December he was “sickened” at the idea of No 10 staff flouting rules, Mr Johnson found himself forced to admit that he too had attended an event on 20 May 2020.
The Independent looks at all the claims of parties and investigations into gatherings across No 10, government departments and at Conservative Party HQ.
Read the full story below:
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 08:15
Boris Johnson did not knowingly break law, Shapps says
Grant Shapps has said Boris Johnson did not knowingly break the law.
Speaking on Sky News, the transport secretary said: “He didn’t knowingly break the law. He didn’t do it deliberately. He didn’t come to Parliament and having knowingly done this.
“He thought in fact that the same people who wished him happy birthday, who he had already been meeting with earlier that day, was not breaking the law.
“The police take a different view. He absolutely accepts that and has paid the fine.”
When asked what it will take for the prime minister to leave office, Mr Shapps said “we live in a democracy and people have every right to vote, to decide what happens with their representatives”.
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 08:00
‘Humans make mistakes,’ minister says in defence of Boris Johnson’s Covid fine
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has come to the defence of the prime minister claiming that “humans make mistakes” and that Boris Johnson is very “embarrassed” by receiving the Covid fine from the Met Police.
When asked on Sky News this morning about the 50 Covid fines handed out by Met Police for Downing Street parties, Mr Shapps responded: “Everyone is human, people sometimes make mistakes,” he said.
“He’s human and humans err sometimes they make mistakes. The police have investigated and independently come to their view he’s apologised he’s accepted responsibility, he’s paid the £50 fine.
“Your question goes to the heart of did he set out to do this, was this something done with malice or intent and the answer of course is no. It’s something that happened in error, I’ve spoken to him he’s incredibly embarrassed by the whole thing he knows it’s stupid he didn’t set up to break the law.
Thomas Kingsley13 April 2022 07:45
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 learnt. He does so as the first sitting prime minister to break his own laws.
Our economics editor, Anna Isaac, has 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.”
I have to say in all frankness at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.
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.
Labour 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 untold hurt to those who lost loved ones.
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