Boris Johnson apologizes in Commons over Partygate fine | Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has spoken of his “humility” as he has addressed MPs for the first time since receiving a fixed-penalty notice for breaching lockdown rules.

The prime minister repeated the apology he gave for his conduct in the wake of last week’s fine, but urged MPs to focus instead on pressing issues including the conflict in Ukraine.

Johnson said he had just been discussing Ukraine with world leaders including Joe Biden, but first wanted to address MPs “with all humility”. His apology of him went on for just under two minutes and included his defense of him that he believed it did not break the rules.

“I paid the fine immediately, and I offered the British public a full apology,” he said. “As soon as I received the notice, I acknowledged the hurt and the anger and I said that people had a right to expect better of their prime minister – and I repeat that again in the house now.”

He added: “It did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the cabinet room, just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy, could amount to a breach of the rules. That was my mistake and I apologize for it unreservedly.”

Johnson said the “hurt and anger” prompted by his lockdown behavior had given him “an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people, and to respond in the best traditions of our country to Putin’s barbaric onslaught on Ukraine” .

Responding to Johnson’s statement, the Labor leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said: “What a joke. Even now, as the latest mealy-mouthed apology stumbles out of one side of his mouth from him, a new set of deflections and distortions pours from the other.

The former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper rejected Johnson’s apology and suggested he should resign. “I strongly support the government’s actions in standing up to Putin’s aggression and helping Ukraine to defend itself and our values, and it’s exactly at times like this that our country needs a prime minister who exemplifies those values,” Harper said.

“I regret to say that we have a PM who broke the laws that he told the country to follow; he hasn’t been straight about it; and he is now going to ask the decent men and women on these benches to defend what I think is indefensible. ” He added: “I no longer think he is worthy of the great office that he holds.”

Harper subsequently tweeted that he had already sent a letter of no confidence in Johnson to the chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

Starmer highlighted the story of John Robinson, who wrote to the Guardian last week to say that he had been unable to hold his wife’s hand as she died, and was unable to hold a proper funeral for her.

MPs will vote on Thursday on a Labor motion seeking to refer the prime minister to the House of Commons privileges committee over claims he lied to parliament about lockdown gatherings.

Johnson reassured MPs in December that “all guidance was followed” in Downing Street during the pandemic – a statement apparently contradicted by the Metropolitan police’s decision to impose a fixed-penalty notice.

According to the ministerial code, ministers who “knowingly mislead parliament” are expected to offer their resignation.

Johnson will be on a trade visit to India when Thursday’s vote is held, as he seeks to demonstrate to colleagues that he is getting on with the job of running the country.

The fixed-penalty notices received by Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, were levied in relation to a birthday gathering for Johnson on 19 June 2020.

The prime minister and senior government officials could yet face further sanctions in the coming weeks as the Met continues its investigations into lockdown gatherings.

Johnson will address his own MPs later on Tuesday, amid fears among Tory backbenchers that public disgust at Partygate is damaging the party’s standing.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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