PMQs: Boris Johnson insists he is focused on job despite partygate fines
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Boris Johnson why he was still in office
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At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer suggested Mr Johnson should resign for misleading the House by denying the allegations of wrongdoing at the parties during England’s coronavirus lockdowns.
An initial round of 20 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) have been issued as part of Scotland Yard’s investigation into a series of gatherings in 2020 and 2021.
What was said about partygate?
In his first public comments since the Metropolitan Police concluded that coronavirus laws were broken following an inquiry into lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, Mr Johnson said the “investigators must get on with their job” but “we are going to get on with our job”.
Labour leader Sir Keir said: “He told the House no rules were broken in Downing Street during lockdown. The police have now concluded there was widespread criminality.
“The Ministerial Code says that ministers who knowingly mislead the House should resign. Why is he still here?”
The Prime Minister said: “Of course, the Met, the investigators must get on with their job but in the meantime … we are going to get on with our job.
“That meant tackling the cost of living, addressing the UK’s energy supply and improving education.
“That’s what we’re focusing on and I think that’s what the people in this country want us to focus on.”
Although Mr Johnson is not expected to be among the first group to be hit with fines, the Met have indicated they expect to issue more fixed penalty notices as their investigations continue.
Sir Keir said there are “only two possible explanations” for Mr Johnson’s position: “Either he’s trashing the Ministerial Code or he’s claiming he was repeatedly lied to by his own advisers, that he didn’t know what was going on in his own house and his own office.
“Come off it.
“He really does think it’s one rule for him and another rule for everyone else, that he can pass off criminality in his office and ask others to follow the law.”
What was said about ‘partying through the cost of living emergency’?
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford accused Boris Johnson’s Government of “partying through the cost of living emergency”.
He said: “Last night millions of families will have been desperately trying to figure out how they will possibly afford the £700 energy price hike that will hit them this Friday.
“At the very same time, Tory MPs were gathering across the street for a champagne bash in Park Plaza… We all know that the Tories partied during lockdown and now they’re partying through the cost of living emergency.
“Last week the Chancellor got it badly, badly wrong with the spring statement and ever since the Prime Minster has been busy briefing against him, saying that more needs to be done. For once I agree with the Prime Minister.
“So if the Prime Minister really believes that more needs to be done, can he tell us exactly what he will order his Chancellor to do, to help the millions of families who are facing a £700 price hike this Friday?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I think he’s in error in what he says about events last night, but he is like me, a living testament to the benefits of moderation in all things.
He added: “The living wage is going up again by record amounts and thanks to what the Chancellor has done, we are putting £9.1 billion into helping people up and down the country.”