Boris Johnson to apologise to MPs today over lockdown party fine - what’s been said in Liverpool

The Prime Minister will face MPs for the first time today since being issued a £50 fixed penalty notice by the Metropolitan Police
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Liverpool MPs are preparing for Boris Johnson to make a “full-throated apology” to Parliament today after he was issued a fine by police for attending a birthday party in breach of Covid rules.

The Prime Minister, who is also marking 1,000 days in No 10, will make his first parliamentary appearance since being fined as the Commons returns from its Easter recess.

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It is reported that he will stop short of addressing allegations he instigated a separate lockdown leaving do as he attempts to convince politicians there are bigger issues to focus on than the partygate saga.

Boris Johnson is expected to make an apology to MPs today after being fined by police (Photo: Getty Images)Boris Johnson is expected to make an apology to MPs today after being fined by police (Photo: Getty Images)
Boris Johnson is expected to make an apology to MPs today after being fined by police (Photo: Getty Images)

What time is Boris Johnson speaking?

Mr Johnson will make a statement in Parliament at around 3.30pm on Tuesday (19 April) to offer “his say” on the partygate scandal and “outline his version of events” before taking questions, a minister said on Monday.

As well as addressing MPs in the Chamber, the PM is expected to speak to a meeting of the entire Conservative parliamentary party on Tuesday evening.

He is then due to travel to India on Thursday (21 April) on a visit Labour dubbed a “vanity trip” to distract from his domestic troubles on the partygate scandal and the cost of living crisis, unless major commitments are secured in New Delhi.

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It is also thought Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, will today announce he will allow a vote on an investigation into whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament with his patygate explanations, according to The Telegraph.

On Monday, a senior Tory suggested a “war cabinet” could be established in place of a leadership contest to avoid detracting attention from the crisis in Ukraine if the PM steps down or is deposed.

Sir Roger Gale said the “interim administration” could be led by the deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, who briefly took the reins in 2020 when Mr Johnson was hospitalised with Covid.

The veteran Tory MP previously submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson, which remains “on the table”, but has since said it is not the right time for a leadership election given the situation in Ukraine.

What is Boris Johnson expected to say?

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The Telegraph cited a Downing Street source as saying he will “offer a full-throated apology and recognise the strength of feeling” among MPs on partygate, but is unlikely to go into too much detail on the matter.

The source reportedly said: “He will obviously give an update on the fine because there is a clear need to do that, but it is difficult to pre-empt the findings of an ongoing police investigation publicly.”

It comes after police issued fines to the Prime Minister, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week for attending a birthday gathering in the Cabinet Room in June 2020, while Covid restrictions were in place.

It is thought that Mr Johnson will instead focus on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, as well as the government’s new controversial policy on sending “illegal” migrants to Rwanda. The Times also reported that he will touch on the cost-of-living crisis and a trip to India focusing on defence and trade.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has rejected the assertion that Mr Johnson could not be removed from office amid the Ukraine War.

Speaking on ITV’s Lorraine, he said: “I don’t really buy into this idea, by the way, that Johnson is the only person of any importance in the Ukraine crisis.

“He is using that, really, as a shield and I think that’s pretty offensive.”

The Labour leader added: “I understand the argument that the Conservative Party is making, which is ‘we are not going to bring him down, we are prepared to go out and parrot his ridiculous defences’.

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“I think for the public it is different, I think people still talk about this, they really hurt about it. I think any Conservative MP that thinks this is just going to go away is making a huge mistake.”

Could the PM face further fines?

Mr Johnson still faces the possibility of further fines from the police after fresh allegations emerged over the weekend that he instigated celebrations for former No 10 director of communications Lee Cain during England’s second lockdown.

The PM is accused of not only attending the leaving drinks for the former communications chief on 13 November 2020, but initiating the do.

He then reportedly returned to his flat above 11 Downing Street, where a second gathering involving his wife and her friends is claimed to have taken place. Members of the press team downstairs are said to have heard Abba music blaring from the flat.

What has been said in Liverpool?

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Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said “no-one is above the law” and called on the Prime Minister and Chancellor to resign following their fines for lockdown parties.

Mr Rotheram, a former Labour MP, said it was “wrong” that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak could not follow the very laws they had set after the Metropolitan Police issued the with pair with fines following parties held at Downing Street at the height of coronavirus lockdowns.

The Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region said Mr Johnson had held on to the country’s highest office “by his fingertips” for long enough and should resign.

He also called for Mr Sunak, hastily promoted to Chancellor of the Exechequer not long before the start of the pandemic, to “fall on his sword” for his role in the scandal.

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Mr Rotheram said: “I think it’s evident that they’ve broken their own regulations around what people should have done during the pandemic and its setting an unprecedented bad example, I think, of government at the highest level. The Prime Minister has held on by his fingertips as long as he possibly could be, it’s time for him to go and I think with the two issues that have befallen the Chancellor, he should follow him and fall on his sword.”

There have been calls from across Merseyside for the pair, who occupy Number 10 and Number 11 Downing Street, to hand in their notices. Some Tory MPs have said the ongoing conflict in Ukraine meant Mr Johnson should not end his Premiership but this argument didn’t hold sway with Mr Rotheram.

He said: “People have given Boris Johnson more than one opportunity to change his behaviour over many, many years and he doesn’t seem to be capable. No-one is above the law, not one police officer, no politician, so if he has transgressed as it seems is likely because he’s obviously been fined for his part in partygate, it’s time for him to go.”

The leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Janette Williamson, also slammed the Prime Minister’s actions calling on both him and the Chancellor to resign.

She said on Twitter: “They partied whilst my residents couldn’t see, hug, care for or say goodbye to their loved ones. Reprehensible.”

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