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Two thirds of Britons want Boris Johnson to resign if he is handed another Partygate fine


A new poll has found that almost two thirds of British people think Boris Johnson should resign if he is hit with more fines for parties in Downing Street.

Earlier this week, the embattled Prime Minister was issued with a £50 fine by London’s Metropolitan Police who decided he had broken his own lockdown rules.

The fine, which Mr Johnson quickly paid, was the result of a birthday gathering for the Prime Minister himself in Downing Street’s cabinet room on June 19, 2020 – almost thee months into the first national lockdown he announced on March 23. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Mr Johnson’s wife, Carrie, were both also issued with fines – with Mr Sunak’s fine coming during a particularly tough time for him politically amid questions over his and his wife’s financial affairs.

Since paying the fine, Mr Johnson apologised over the debacle. However, he is thought to have been involved in at least five of the 11 further events inside Downing Street currently under investigation by the police – and it is therefore possible he could be fined again.

The Prime Minister is also facing claims he misled Parliament with his denials of Downing Street parties prior to being issued the fine. He has claimed he did not know he was breaking the rules by attending the party.

What’s more, once the police have concluded their investigations, a senior civil servant’s detailed report on the scandal – the Sue Gray report – will be published in full, which seems likely to increase the political pressure on Mr Johnson.

A new poll has found that almost two thirds of British people think Boris Johnson (centre) should resign if he is hit with more fines for parties in Downing Street

A new poll has found that almost two thirds of British people think Boris Johnson (centre) should resign if he is hit with more fines for parties in Downing Street

Were the Prime Minister to be fined again over the parties, 63 percent of the British public say they think he should resign, according to a YouGov poll conducted on behalf of The Times. The poll also found that 36 percent of people who voted for Johnson’s Conservative party in 2019 would want his resignation with more fines. 

That is compared to 49 percent of Conservative voters who said he should stay on in his position regardless of whether he is fined more or not, The Times reported. 

The 63 percent figure is higher than those who think he should resign after receiving the single fine this week, the newspaper noted, which stood at 56 percent.

Just one percent less – 55 percent – said they think Sunak should also resign, suggesting his efforts to distance himself from the on-going row have been unsuccessful, despite him reportedly only briefly being at the birthday party.

The poll also found that votes are not buying Johnson’s defences, with just 14 percent of those polled saying they think he is being truthful when he says he did not realise he was breaking his own rules by attending the party.

Currently, once-mutinous Conservative MPs have in recent weeks rallied around their leader as the war in Ukraine and the growing cost-of-living crisis diverted attention away from the scandal over the parties.

But commentators are questioning whether Johnson, 57, can maintain that support if he is repeatedly fined, his party fares poorly in the May 5 nationwide polls and further details of parties emerge.

‘A lot more fines and a lot more headlines might change the view of more voters and that in turn might change the mind of Conservative MPs if they do very badly in the elections,’ Anand Menon, a politics professor at King’s College London, told AFP.

‘He’s clearly willing and able to brazen some things out in a way other, earlier prime ministers probably weren’t… I don’t think he’s superhuman, though.’

Earlier this week, the embattled Prime Minister was issued with a £50 fine by London's Metropolitan Police who decided he had broken his own lockdown rules

Earlier this week, the embattled Prime Minister was issued with a £50 fine by London’s Metropolitan Police who decided he had broken his own lockdown rules

As a possible sign of things to come, Justice Minister Simon Wolfson resigned from the government on Wednesday, citing ‘the scale, context and nature’ of the rule breaches.

The peer concluded he had no option but to resign considering ‘my ministerial and professional obligations to support and uphold the rule of law’.

Conservative former cabinet minister Karen Bradley suggested Mr Johnson should quit.

The Staffordshire Moorlands MP said: ‘My constituents know that I have been clear that those that make the rules must not break them, whether intentionally or otherwise. The public are right to expect the highest standards of behaviour from their leaders.’

She said ‘law breaking in Downing Street is unforgivable’ but the war in Ukraine meant there was a need to ‘act responsibly so as to not make the situation worse’.

‘But I do wish to make it clear that if I had been a minister found to have broken the laws that I passed, I would be tendering my resignation now.’

Commons Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood said Vladimir Putin would exploit Mr Johnson’s position

‘How can a lawmaker also be a law breaker? This is not a good look,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He suggested that Mr Johnson should trigger a confidence vote himself.

Mr Ellwood added: ‘I think the Prime Minister has made his intentions clear – he wants to stay – but this is bigger than the Prime Minister.

‘It’s about the reputation of the party for which all colleagues must defend, and I believe he owes it to the parliamentary party, once the reports have concluded and the local elections have allowed the public view to be factored in, to agree to hold his own vote of confidence if those elections go badly.’

After facing accusations of hypocrisy for not following the rules and allegations of lying to MPs, Mr Johnson told a press conference in Kent: "You are going to have to wait until I come to Parliament when of course I will set the record straight in any way that I can."

After facing accusations of hypocrisy for not following the rules and allegations of lying to MPs, Mr Johnson told a press conference in Kent: ‘You are going to have to wait until I come to Parliament when of course I will set the record straight in any way that I can.’

A protester holds up a placard of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside Downing Street in London, Britain, 13 April 2022

A protester holds up a placard of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside Downing Street in London, Britain, 13 April 2022

Johnson’s position was hanging by a thread earlier this year following a stream of controversies since last summer that culminated in ‘partygate’ and an increasingly rebellious mood among his MPs.

Several Conservative lawmakers publicly withdrew their support for his leadership, with more reportedly writing letters of no-confidence in him to the party’s 1922 Committee.

If the grouping of backbenchers receives at least 54 such letters from Johnson’s 360 MPs, it would spark a confidence vote and his possible removal as leader.

‘Boris Johnson will remain PM so long as he… retains the confidence of the Conservative group of MPs,’ Robert Hazell, of University College London’s Constitution Unit, explained. ‘It is they who will decide his fate.’

Johnson is expected to face lawmakers when they return from their Easter break next week to explain why he repeatedly insisted in the House of Commons that no lockdown rules had been broken.

After facing accusations of hypocrisy for not following the rules and allegations of lying to MPs, Mr Johnson told a press conference in Kent: ‘You are going to have to wait until I come to Parliament when of course I will set the record straight in any way that I can.’ 

Knowingly misleading parliament is a breach of government ministers’ code of conduct, which states they should resign as a result.

Hannah White, of the Institute for Government think-tank, told the BBC that Johnson’s refusal to do so ‘puts us in a very difficult situation’.

‘If it is now henceforth precedent that if you break the law as a minister, you don’t automatically have to resign, that’s… quite a difficult precedent to have been set,’ she said. 

White noted that Johnson was hoping voters’ anger over ‘partygate’ had dissipated.

But Britons across the country made huge sacrifices during the pandemic, including not being able to attend loved one’s funerals. Opinion polls suggest that many remain furious at the behaviour in Downing Street. 

‘They are able to see that Boris Johnson has done a good job on Ukraine but that anger about ‘partygate’ has continued throughout the entire time,’ James Johnson, a Conservative pollster, told BBC radio.

‘I think we’re going to see this really light that anger up all over again,’ he said. It would be ‘deluded’ to think the Tories could avoid fallout from the scandal at the ballot box, he added on Twitter.

London Metropolitan Police, which is conducting the ‘partygate’ probe, said Tuesday over 50 fines had been issued so far. The initial March 29 announcement had referred to just 20. 

Sebastian Payne, the Financial Times’ Whitehall editor, predicted that a poor Conservative electoral performance paired with the prime minister being fined again could be ‘the final straw’ for its lawmakers.

‘If they see electoral evidence that things are not going in their direction and that the ‘partygate’ situation is causing them to lose votes, that could change their thinking,’ he told BBC News. 

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson faced questions about rumours of a rift with the Chancellor following a series of rows involving Mr Sunak.

Mr Johnson is facing questions about rumours of a rift with the Chancellor following a series of rows involving Mr Sunak (pictured together last year)

Mr Johnson is facing questions about rumours of a rift with the Chancellor following a series of rows involving Mr Sunak (pictured together last year)

The Chancellor's standing has been damaged by the response to the spring statement and the cost-of-living crisis, revelations about his wife's non-domiciled tax status and his former possession of a US green card and the FPN issued over partygate

The Chancellor’s standing has been damaged by the response to the spring statement and the cost-of-living crisis, revelations about his wife’s non-domiciled tax status and his former possession of a US green card and the FPN issued over partygate

Asked if Mr Sunak was in danger of being removed as Chancellor or if he had that job for as long as he wants, the Prime Minister simply said: ‘Yes.’

The Chancellor’s standing has been damaged by the response to the spring statement and the cost-of-living crisis, revelations about his wife’s non-domiciled tax status and his former possession of a US green card and the FPN issued over partygate.

In her first public comments on the partygate row, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Prime Minister should be ‘respected’ for giving a ‘very thorough and fulsome apology’ after being fined.

Asked by reporters during her visit to Rwanda whether she was disappointed that Mr Johnson had been fined for breaking the rules, she said: ‘The Prime Minister has apologised, the Prime Minister has paid a fine.

‘I’m not going to give a running commentary on this, there’s an investigation still ongoing.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged more Tory MPs to speak out against the Prime Minister instead of acting like ‘lemmings’ in support of him.

‘Every Tory MP that cares about honesty and integrity should call for the Prime Minister to resign. They know he’s a liar. They know he’s a law breaker,’ he said.

Sir Keir dismissed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a tougher immigration policy, sending some migrants crossing the English Channel to Rwanda, as a ‘desperate’ attempt to distract from the partygate row. 



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