Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are both to receive fixed penalty notices for attending lockdown parties, it has just emerged.
The police fines for breaking Covid laws, which these two men created, throw everything around the Prime Minister and the Chancellor into the air. Previously, many Tory MPs had said this would be a resigning matter for a serving PM to be found to have broken the law.
A No. 10 spokesperson confirmed the fines, saying: ‘The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices.’
The Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson has also been fined. A spokesperson for Mrs Johnson said: ‘In the interests of transparency, Mrs Johnson can confirm she has been notified that she will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice. She has not yet received any further details about the nature of the FPN.’
The Prime Minister has now not only been found by police to have broken the law, but he also misled parliament about the matter, saying he had been assured that there was no party. Now we know the police have concluded that on at least one occasion there was a party and that Johnson attended it.
What will Tory MPs do now? Parliament is in recess at the moment, which makes it harder for them to organise an immediate response. But what it does mean is that MPs will face the reaction of their constituents. Remember that it was the fury within constituency parties and among local voters that tipped many Conservatives into calling for Johnson to resign when the row reached its height.
There is also a question about what the opposition does. Sir Keir Starmer has already said that ‘Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign.’ But does he now call for a vote of no confidence in the Commons? Or does he wait for the Conservative party to hold its own vote?
If Tory MPs don’t pick up a reaction from their constituents before returning to parliament, then they will surely get a clearer message in the local elections next month. The timing of these fines couldn’t be worse for those polls. But it is highly unlikely that the local elections are the only polls this will affect. Political parties often mistakenly price in things that voters are still angry about. While Westminster had largely moved on from the Lib Dem U-turn on tuition fees, the 2015 election showed voters had not. This is of a far greater magnitude than a weasely policy change.
Boris Johnson is the first Prime Minister in history to have been found to have broken the law. It is impossible that voters will have forgotten this come the next election. And his most likely successor – Rishi Sunak – is in exactly the same leaking boat.
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