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Boris Johnson has become the first sitting Prime Minister to be punished for breaking the law after receiving notification from the Metropolitan Police that he will be handed a fixed-term penalty notice over Partygate.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the PM’s wife, Carrie Johnson, will also be issued with a fine for breaching lockdown rules.
It comes as the force announce a further 30 fines as part of “Operation Hillman” – its criminal investigation into 12 illicit parties in Whitehall and Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic.
A Number 10 spokesperson says they have not been informed which event the fines are linked to. But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for Johnson and Sunak to resign as he is “totally unfit to govern”.
Meanwhile, Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, has asked for Parliament to be recalled for a vote of confidence in the government.
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Yet the biggest danger to Johnson’s premiership are comments he made in the House of Commons. On 8 December, during Prime Minister’s Questions, he told the Chamber: “I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken. I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken.”
Johnson may claim that under prevailing conditions he did not mislead members because he was responding to questions over a gathering on 18 December 2020.
Nevertheless, Johnson will have to correct the record at the dispatch box in some capacity.
MPs may wonder what impacts this latest chapter to the Partygate saga will have on the party’s local election prospects in three weeks’ time – and whether it will cause further damage to Johnson’s anarchic leadership.