| 21 May 2022, Saturday |

In wake of fine, British premier apologizes for lockdown-breaking party

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized in parliament on Tuesday for attending an unlawful lockdown party at his Downing Street house, a violation for which the police issued a fixed penalty notice last week.

“Let me begin by noting that on April 12th, I received an FPN referring to a Downing Street event on June 19, 2020,” Johnson remarked.

“I promptly paid the fine and apologized fully to the British people,” he stated.

“I repeat my wholehearted apology to the House.”

Johnson acknowledged how many people were angry and that they “expect better from their prime minister.”

“That was my mistake, and I apologize for it unreservedly,” he said.

The prime minister then pivoted to the situation in Ukraine.


Infamous first

Opposition MPs as well as some of his own backbenchers refused to allow him that breathing space, however, and focused on his being the first prime minister in British history to be found to have broken the law while in office.

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, called Johnson’s statement a “joke.”

Starmer said that as the latest “apology stumbles out of one side of his mouth a new set of deflections and distortions pour from the other.”

“But the damage is already done, the public have made up their mind. They don’t believe a word the prime minister says. They know what he is,” he said.

Starmer said: “For all those unfamiliar with this prime minister’s career, this isn’t some fixable glitch in the system, it’s the whole point. It’s what he does, it’s who he is.”

He described the prime minister as “incapable of changing.”

“The prime minister knows what he is,” Starmer said, adding that some Conservative MPs seemed “oblivious to the prime minister’s game,” while “some know what he is up to, but are too weak to act.”

Starmer called on Johnson to resign.


‘Defend the indefensible’

Ian Blackford, Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party, said Johnson was only apologizing because he was caught.

Blackford said that Johnson’s excuses had “run out of road, and so must his time in office.”

“The prime minister has broken the very laws he wrote, to try and argue that he did not know he had broken his own laws would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious,” he said.

Blackford called on Conservative MPs to remove Johnson from office.

Many Conservative MPs defended Johnson, saying his apology was sincere and praised his role in helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

Not all of his MPs defended him, however.

Mark Harper, an influential Conservative backbench MP, said Johnson was asking his MPs to “defend the indefensible.”

“I am sorry to have to say this, but I no longer think he is worthy of the great office that he holds,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Speaker of the House Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle accepted a request from opposition MPs to have a vote on whether Johnson misled parliament over the scandal.

Johnson denies misleading parliament.


Disbelieving public

Johnson received a fine from the police last week for attending a birthday party held for him in June 2020 in Downing Street while the rest of the country was in lockdown.

His wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were also fined for attending the same event.

All three paid the fine, believed to be £50 ($65), and apologized.

The police have so far issued over 50 fines as a result of their ongoing investigation into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and the government.

Twelve gatherings are being investigated by the police, and Johnson has been reported to have attended six of them – and he has not ruled out being handed further fines.

The full version of the government commissioned investigation into the parties by leading civil servant Sue Gray is also yet to be published as she is awaiting the end of the police investigation. A heavily redacted summary was published earlier this year.

A snap poll by YouGov on the day of Johnson’s fine found 57% of voters believed Johnson should resign, and 75% believed he had knowingly lied.​​​​​​​

On Friday, Johnson will seek to reassert his position as prime minister by carrying out a trade and defense trip to India, which was previously delayed due to the pandemic.​​​​​​​




  • Anadolu Agency