Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to admit rules were broken on Downing Street during the lockdown, despite Metropolitan Police issuing 20 fixed fines and Dominic Raab saying there were “clear regulatory violations”.
Raab, who oversees the justice system as justice minister, suggested in a BBC interview on Wednesday that the Met’s decision to issue 20 fines to people involved in Downing Street rallies showed that the law had been broken.
But when the prime minister was later questioned by MPs from the backbench liaison committee, he repeatedly insisted that he would not provide “ongoing comment”, adding: “I just think it would be wrong of me to deviate from that. .”
Urged again by SNP MP Pete Wishart, Johnson insisted, “I’m going to camp pretty firmly in my position.”
“There will come a time when I will be able to talk about the investigation and the conclusions of the investigation, and that is when the investigation is completed,” the prime minister added.
Johnson also tried to suggest that he had addressed some of the issues highlighted in senior official Sue Gray’s report by changing the leadership structure to No. 10.
“I’ve been to the house several times to talk about this and to explain and apologize and to lay out the things we did to change the way things were run in No 10, and that has we done,” he said. †
Johnson declined to say whether it would be a dismissal case if he was given notice of his own.
Downing Street has said it will announce if the Prime Minister receives such a message, and if Cabinet Minister Simon Case does, but will not reveal which other officials have received them.
Previously, Labor leader Keir Starmer alleged that Johnson had misled the House of Commons when he claimed in December, after stories of rule-breaking parties first surfaced, that “all guidelines were followed”.
“He [Johnson] told the house that no rules had been broken in Downing Street during the lockdown,” Starmer said. “The police have now concluded that there was widespread crime. The ministerial code says that ministers who knowingly mislead the House must resign. Why is he still here?”
Johnson dodged the question, saying, “Of course the researchers should continue their work, but in the meantime, we will continue our work.”
Starmer responded by reprimanding Johnson for repeatedly insisting he knew nothing about alleged Covid offenses in Downing Street, as Metropolitan Police have announced the fines, and others may follow.
“Look, there are only two possible explanations: either he is destroying the ministerial code or he is claiming that he was repeatedly lied to by his own advisers and did not know what was going on in his own home and office,” Starmer said, with the question: “When is he going to stop taking the British public for fools?”
Starmer’s spokesman later suggested that Johnson’s claim that he could not comment while the police investigation continued was “clearly untenable”. Labor has also suggested that Case, the highest ranking official at number 10, should resign if he is fined.
However, Conservative MPs appear to have tentatively accepted the argument that it would be premature to act against the Prime Minister as it remains unclear whether he himself will be fined – and before Gray’s full report is published.
Several Tory MPs have previously said publicly that they had sent letters to the 1922 Committee chairman, Graham Brady, calling for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, but some, including Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, they have since withdrawn.
If 54 such letters were received, a vote of no confidence would be declared, and if Johnson lost it, his premiership would be over. Despite the narrowing of national polls since the war in Ukraine pushed Partygate onto the news agenda, some backseats insist that if the prime minister gets a notice with a fixed fine, it should still be a matter of resigning.
The Met has not provided an estimate of how long its investigations could take, and it has been suggested that these first 20 reports are the easy cases, or “low hanging fruit.”
Dozens of Conservative MPs joined Johnson on Tuesday evening for a dinner designed to improve his ties with the parliamentary party.
Starmer used most of his questions to the Prime Minister’s questions to address Johnson over the rising tax burden in the wake of last week’s spring statement, asking: “Does the Prime Minister still think he and the Chancellor are tax cuts? of conservatives?”
“Yes, I certainly do,” Johnson replied, referring to the fuel tax cut in the statement and a pledge to cut income tax rates by 1 pence by 2024, saying that this would lessen the impact of the rise in fuel consumption. national insurance to fund the NHS and social care.
“Get the nonsense and treat the British people with a little respect,” Starmer replied, laughing at Labor MPs: “I can only hope his police questionnaire was a little more convincing than that.”