Boris Johnson plays the Ukraine card as he tries to turn the page on the Partygate scandal – POLITICO

LONDON — Boris Johnson tried to turn the page in a row about government parties flouting the coronavirus lockdown by reminding his MPs that he has a key role to play in the Ukraine war response.

Britain’s Prime Minister – who was fined by police last week for a gathering in 2020 when COVID rules made it illegal to meet indoors – apologized to Parliament “with all humility” on Tuesday.

The gathering was held shortly after the pandemic broke out to mark Johnson’s birthday. Johnson has claimed he only attended briefly and it never occurred to him that he broke the rules.

The Prime Minister told MPs when they met for the first time since receiving the sentence that he “acknowledges the pain and anger” the public is feeling and that “people have the right to have something better from theirs.” Expect Prime Minister”.

But Johnson immediately turned to the war engulfing Ukraine, saying that anger at him made him “feel even more committed to upholding the priorities of the British people and, in the best traditions of our country, to facing Putin’s barbaric onslaught.” react against Ukraine.”

He drew attention to a virtual meeting he attended with world leaders on Tuesday afternoon and discussed his recent trip to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has praised the British response to the Russian invasion.

Labor leader Keir Starmer didn’t buy it. He accused the Prime Minister of “distortions and distractions” and said of Johnson’s behavior: “This is not a recoverable flaw in the system. It’s the whole point. That’s what he does.”

Safiah Ngah, spokeswoman for the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group, said Johnson’s apology was “the words of someone who regrets being caught, not someone who regrets the damage he caused.”

Of greater concern for Johnson will be the reaction of Conservative MPs in the coming days. His fellow parliamentarians hold Johnson’s fate in their hands, but have so far shied away from triggering an internal party vote on his leadership.

Tory MP and former Cabinet Secretary Mark Harper called on Johnson to step down, saying he was “no longer worthy of the great office he holds”. But few others broke ranks to criticize their leader.

Johnson faces another test of strength on Thursday when MPs will vote on whether to refer him to a Commons committee dealing with disregard for parliamentary cases amid allegations he misled MPs when he previously said all COVID rules had been followed.

The prime minister stressed that he did not do this on purpose and that the success of his defense will depend on how convincing MPs find the argument. Misleading Parliament has traditionally been a resigned affair.

Johnson confirmed he had now paid the police fine and reminded MPs that the police investigation was ongoing.

Critics from Johnson’s own party predicted this week’s vote would go his way. But they said he could still face a threat to his position if the Conservatives do poorly in next month’s local elections or if he is fined again over what is seen as an egregious event.

A senior Tory MP said “a great many” of his colleagues thought they had been “seriously disappointed” but would “wait until after the election”. Boris Johnson plays the Ukraine card as he tries to turn the page on the Partygate scandal - POLITICO

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