Boris Johnson has become the first sitting prime minister to break the law after being fined by police over the Partygate scandal.
The Tory leader offered a “full apology” for breaking his own Covid laws but refused to step down despite millions of Britons abiding by the rules.
His wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have also been issued festive permits to attend the Prime Minister’s lockdown-busting birthday party on June 19, 2020.
Met police shattered the fragile peace the PM had made with his own backbenchers when they announced 30 more fines had been imposed yesterday, bringing the total to 50.
Scotland Yard confirmed it is continuing its investigation into at least a dozen social gatherings at the heart of government first revealed by the Daily Mirror.
Tonight nervous Tory MPs held their own advice on the PM’s future as it became clear he could face further fines, potentially dragging the controversy for weeks.
He is said to have attended at least six of the social gatherings investigated by the Met, including a party at his own home.
Mr Johnson, speaking from his clemency and favor residency Checkers at the end of a dramatic day, admitted he had paid police a fine.
“It didn’t occur to me that this could have been a violation of the rules. But of course the police found something different and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation,” he said.
“I understand the anger many will feel that I myself failed to comply with the rules that the government I lead had put in place to protect the public.
“I sincerely accept that people had the right to expect better.”
Mr Johnson is also accused of misleading Parliament – usually a matter of resignation – four months ago when he solemnly swore: “All guidance has been fully followed in No 10.”
But he denied lying to the House of Commons, claiming: “I spoke in perfect good faith.”
The under-fire Prime Minister has been urged to back down from bereaved families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic and leaders of all major opposition parties.
Keir Starmer, a former chief prosecutor, said the police decision was the “first time in our country’s history that a prime minister has been found to have broken the law”.
The Labor leader accused Mr Johnson of “repeatedly” lying about what happened behind No 10’s famous black door.
He also argued that the Tory leader and Mr Sunak had “dishonored” the sacrifices made by millions of Brits who played by the rules during the pandemic.
“The British public has made the most unimaginable, heartbreaking sacrifices and many have been overcome with guilt,” he said.
“But the culprits are the prime minister and the chancellor. Britain deserves better, they must go.”
A quick YouGov poll found that 57% of people think he should quit, while 30% want him to stay. A staggering 75% say he knowingly lied about breaking the law.
The Liberal Democrats have urged the prime minister to recall parliament so he can face questions – and a vote of confidence – from MPs over the scandal.
Plans to end the Easter holidays early due to the possible use of chemical weapons in Ukraine were reportedly scrapped so Mr Johnson could avoid awkward questions about Partygate.
No10 confirmed the fine of £100, halved to £50 if paid within 14 days, in connection with the Prime Minister’s surprise 56th birthday party on 19 June 2020, when indoor gatherings were banned.
The event, allegedly organized by Ms Carrie, took place in the Cabinet Room at No. 10, where staff ate picnic food and sang “Happy Birthday”.
Prime Minister’s ally Conor Burns notoriously tried to defend the Prime Minister over the bash by claiming he was “ambushed by pies” – although officials denied any had been present.
However, the Mirror was told police had a photograph of Mr Johnson with a can of Estrella beer at the bash, taken by the Prime Minister’s taxpayer-funded photographer.
Ms Johnson’s spokeswoman claimed she only briefly attended the event with her newborn baby Wilf in her arms.
Andrew Parsons / 10 Downing Street)
The Prime Minister said he now “humbly accepts” that he broke the rules – but that he now wants to move on.
“I think the best thing I can do now is after the penalty is paid, focus on the task at hand. I will do that.”
Grieving Covid families have said Mr Johnson and his Chancellor should resign as they have caused “untold pain” and lost credibility with the general public.
Lobby Akinnola, spokesman for Covid-19 Survivors for Justice said: “After everything that has happened, it’s still incredibly painful to know that the Prime Minister was celebrating and breaking his own lockdown rules – while we weren’t able to be with loved ones . Pages in their moments of death or at miserable funerals with just a handful of people – because we played by the rules.
“That the Prime Minister and his Chancellor then lied about it and would have continued to do so had the police not intervened is truly shameless. You broke the law. But even worse, they all took us for pitchers.
“There is simply no way that neither the Prime Minister nor the Chancellor can go ahead.”
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Only a handful of the Prime Minister’s staunchest allies gave him their public support, while many other Tory MPs are awaiting how the coming weeks unfold before deciding whether to oust him.
One loyalist, Michael Fabricant, sparked fury by claiming hard-working teachers and NHS staff have been drinking at work during the pandemic.
He said, “I don’t think at any point he thought he was breaking the law … he thought just like a lot of teachers and nurses who after a very long shift would go back to the staff room and have a quiet drink.”
But although the prime minister’s handling of the Ukraine crisis has bought him some time with his own party, many Tories have warned he cannot be the leader to lead them to the next election.
Longtime Tory critic Sir Roger Gale claimed it was not the right time to unseat the Prime Minister – but added: “I don’t think the Prime Minister will lead us to the next election…”
Another senior MP added: “Clearly the game is over – it’s just a matter of when, not if.”
Tory rebels need to collect 54 letters of no-confidence against the Prime Minister to spark a leadership contest – although it is likely to be bolstered by the lack of an apparent successor.
Mr Johnson faces a bumpy few weeks with the prospect of more fines and the local elections in May giving voters a chance to make their views known.
Many of his allies had believed he was likely to avoid a fine – so the Met’s decision came as a shock to No.10.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/street-shame-boris-johnson-first-26699010 Road of Shame: Boris Johnson first PM to break the law as he and Rishi Sunak fined