Partygate: How Tory ministers are defending the law-breaking prime minister

Tory ministers have rallied around Boris Johnson after he was found by police to have broken his own Covid laws.

The PM’s cabinet lined up to defend him as he faced calls to resign after being fined for having a birthday party during lockdown at at time when he had banned the public from having gatherings.

Many MPs attempted to use Russia’s war against Ukraine to move the conversation on Mr Johnson’s law-breaking and stress the importance of him remaining in office.

Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and chancellor Rishi Sunak were among 30 people issued with fixed penalty notices on Tuesday following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police into parties that took place at Downing Street.

Responding to Mr Johnson’s apology, in which he claimed “it did not occur” to him that he was breaching his own lockdown rules, Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg tweeted: “This ought to close this matter. There is a war on and the Prime Minister, supported by the Chancellor, provides the leadership the nation needs.”

Oliver Dowden, co-chairman of the Conservative party, also showed his support for the prime minister, saying he is “fully behind” him “getting on with the job” at a time when the UK is facing an energy crisis and dealing with the conflict in Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The prime minister has apologized and taken responsibility for what happened in Downing Street.

“He and the Chancellor are delivering for Britain on many fronts including on the international security crisis we face. They have my 100% backing.”

Meanwhile, transport secretary Grant Shapps recalled not being able to visit his father in hospital for four months due to Covid restrictions to illustrate he understands the public “anger”. But he said Mr Johnson has his “full support” as he “leads the West’s response to Putin’s evil war”.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross echoed similar sentiments, saying it “wouldn’t be right” to remove the prime minister during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Ross had previously submitted a letter of no-confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership but withdrew it following the outbreak of war in eastern Europe.

In a statement, he said: “As I’ve made very clear, in the middle of war in Europe, when Vladimir Putin is committing war crimes and the UK is Ukraine’s biggest ally…it wouldn’t be right to remove the prime minister at this time.

“It would destabilize the UK government when we need to be united in the face of Russian aggression and the murdering of innocent Ukrainians.”

Veteran Conservative Sir Roger Gale has previously called for Boris Johnson to resign over the so-called partygate allegations but said the news of the prime minister being fined should not distract from confronting Russia.

He told the Press Association: “It’s serious of course. My position remains that the fact that the Prime Minister has effectively misled the House of Commons is a very serious issue indeed.

“But we are in the middle of an international crisis and I am not prepared to give Vladimir Putin the comfort of thinking that we are about to unseat the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and destabilize the coalition against Putin.”

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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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