Boris Johnson tells Newport MP he will be open about every ‘partygate’ penalty notice
Boris Johnson has told Newport’s MP Ruth Jones that he will be open about every ‘partygate’ penalty notice he receives from the police.
The Prime Minister apologised to MPs at Westminster on Tuesday after he was issued with a fixed penalty notice by police for breaching Covid-19 restrictions.
However, that notice only applied to one get-together at No 10 and it is thought that more penalty notices may be incoming.
When asked at Prime Minister’s Questions by Newport West MP Ruth Jones whether he will commit to making public every fixed penalty notice he receives, Boris Johnson said “I have been transparent with the House” and “will be”.
The Prime Minister’s comments came as Ruth Jones said: “It’s time for him to stop this ridiculous charade that he believes no rules were broken. So, will he commit to making public every fixed penalty notice he receives, will he publish the party photos taken by the official photographer and ensure the Sue Gray report is published at the earliest opportunity? We have a right to know the truth.”
Mr Johnson replied: “On my own fixed penalty notice, I have been transparent with the House, I apologise, on the rest of it… and will be.
“But on the rest of it, I really think as I have said before, the House should wait to the conclusion of the investigation when Sue Gray will be finally reporting.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer opened Prime Minister’s questions by asking about the resignation of the Prime Minister’s former spokeswoman Allegra Stratton.
Sir Keir asked: “Why did the Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton have to resign from her job?”
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson replied: “I bitterly regret Allegra’s resignation.
“I think it was very sad and I think she did an outstanding job… particularly since she was the one who coined the expression ‘coal, cars, cash and trees’ which enabled the UK to deliver a fantastic Cop26 summit last year.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “These are strange answers from a man who yesterday claimed to be making a humble apology.
“Does the Prime Minister actually accept that he broke the law?”
Boris Johnson replied: “Yes, Mr Speaker I’ve been absolutely clear that I humbly accept what the police have said, I paid the fixed penalty notice, and what I think the country and what I think the whole House would really rather do, is get on with the things for which we were elected, deliver on our promises to the British people.
“You could not have clearer evidence of the intellectual bankruptcy of (Labour), they have no plans for energy, they have no plans for social care and they have no plans to fix the economy.”
The Prime Minister accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of being stuck in a “Doctor Who time warp” as he was asked to resign over partygate.
Sir Keir said in the Commons: “Allegra Stratton laughed at breaking the rules. She resigned. The Prime Minister then claimed he was furious at her behaviour and accepted her resignation.
“Professor Neil Ferguson broke the rules. He also resigned. The Prime Minister said that was the right thing to do.
“The former health secretary (Matt Hancock) broke the rules. He too resigned. The Prime Minister tried to claim he sacked him. Why does the Prime Minister think everybody else’s actions have consequences except his own?”
Boris Johnson replied: “I think he is in some kind of Doctor Who time warp. We had this conversation yesterday, Mr Speaker, and I have explained why I bitterly regret receiving an FPN (fixed penalty notice) and I apologised to the House.”
The Prime Minister added he would “get on with delivering for the British people” and “power out of the problems that Covid has left us”.
Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of opting to “slander decent people” in private but lacking the “backbone to repeat it in public”.
He told the Commons: “He never takes responsibility for his words or actions. They were all there. The Prime Minister also accused the BBC of not being critical enough of Putin.
“Would the Prime Minister have the guts to say that to the face of (BBC reporters) Clive Myrie, Lyse Doucet and Steve Rosenberg, who have all risked their lives day in, day out on the frontline in Russia and Ukraine uncovering Putin’s barbarism?”
Mr Johnson replied: “If (Sir Keir) wants to join the Conservative Party and come and listen to the meetings of the Conservative Party he’s welcome to do it though, as I say, I think he’s a Corbynista in an Islington suit.
“But I said nothing of the kind and I have the highest admiration as a former journalist for what journalists do. I think they do an outstanding job. I think he should withdraw what he just said – it has absolutely no basis or foundation in truth.”
Sir Keir countered: “That’s how he operates: a mealy mouthed apology when the cameras roll, a viscous attack on those who tell the truth as soon as the cameras are off. Slander decent people in a private room, let the slander spread without the backbone to repeat it in public.”
MPs will vote on Thursday on a motion to refer the Prime Minister to the Privileges Committee, highlighting four separate comments about partygate which “appear to amount to misleading the House”.
The motion asks the committee to consider whether Boris Johnson’s conduct “amounted to a contempt of the House”.
The cross-party motion suggests the committee should not begin considering the matter until the Metropolitan Police inquiry has concluded.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We are urging Conservative MPs to do the right thing: To respect the sacrifice that their constituents made during the pandemic, to say that the public were right to follow the rules, and to vote in the national interest not under pressure from the party whips.
“The British public know that the rules were broken in Downing Street. Voting to say otherwise won’t persuade the public that everything was fine but will further damage the reputation of any Conservative MP who is happy to say it was one rule for the public and another for this Government.
“Tomorrow’s vote is an important step to restoring decency, honesty and integrity into our politics.”
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