LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Boris Johnson is planning to present his “version of events” on partygate to MPs for the first time this week, following a police probe that resulted in a fine.
After additional reports about the PM’s role in alleged lockdown breaching surfaced, Mr Johnson is due to brief the House of Commons on the matter when parliament reconvenes after the Easter break.
He was already penalised for attending a party, celebrating his birthday in June 2020, and it was revealed over the weekend that he planned a leaving drinks party for November 2020.
Some Conservative MPs have already publicly joined opposition lawmakers in calling for Mr Johnson to resign, and Sky News has learned of at least one more who is preparing to send a letter of no confidence to join others previously sent.
A major point will be whether he deceived parliament when he assured the Commons that no regulations had been breached when the allegations of the parties first surfaced.
On Tuesday evening, Mr Johnson will reportedly address a gathering of the entire Conservative parliamentary party in addition to speaking to MPs in the Commons.
The PM would have his say in parliament and would present his side of the story and face questions from MPs, Greg Hands, energy minister, told Sky News on Monday.
Mr Hands expressed his strong support for the PM, saying he was “getting on with the job,” noting the COVID-19 vaccine campaign and Britain’s backing for Ukraine as examples.
When asked if the PM should resign in case he gets yet another lockdown fine, the minister responded saying that he was not privy to the police inquiry, and he believed they would have to wait and see what would come out of it. He didn’t want to make any assumptions about the ongoing police investigation.
Following last week’s police action, ministers mostly backed the prime minister, except justice minister Lord Wolfson, who resigned, claiming that what had happened was not consistent with the rule of law.
Some backbenchers, on the other hand, have been more ambiguous in their support, with some just ready to remark that now is not the time for the PM to step down.
Mr Johnson, according to opposition politicians, must resign.
He had lied repeatedly, he had misled the parliament, he had ripped up the ministerial code… they had further fines potentially coming, said Sarah Jones, Labour’s shadow policing minister, to Sky News on Monday.
They needed to be able to look those MPs in the eyes who were defending this prime minister in parliament and said that every time you defended his lies, you debased the sacrifices that the British people had made.
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, appeared to mention the controversy in his Easter sermon over the weekend.
Did we want to be known for the strength of their democracy, where those in public life lived up to the highest ideals, and where they couldn’t trust those in positions of leadership to act with honesty and honour, he questioned.