Most of the recent news we’ve seen involving British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dealt with his trip to Kyiv to walk the streets of the battered city with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski. He’s drawn a lot of praise for throwing himself into the middle of a still-dangerous area and supporting the Ukrainians with everything short of an actual troop deployment. But there was another ongoing saga involving BoJo that hasn’t gone away. That would be the investigation into Partygate, where the Prime Minister and many of his staff were accused of holding posh parties at 10 Downing Street while the rest of the country was forbidden from taking part in any gatherings on Johnson’s orders.
After an investigation into these events concluded in January, BoJo issued a long apology in Parliament for the many things that “shouldn’t have happened.” But that clearly didn’t satisfy anyone and there were still steps being taken to hold him accountable. Now the next phase of the saga has unfolded. The Metropolitan Police in London announced this week that they were issuing nearly three dozen “fixed penalty notices” (fines) to Johnson and other members of his administration. (The Hill)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said Tuesday he will be issued a fine for breaching COVID-19 regulations following allegations of lockdown parties at government offices. Treasury Chief Rishi Sunak will also be fined.
The news came after London’s Metropolitan Police force said earlier Tuesday that they were issuing 30 more fixed penalty notices in relation to the “partygate” scandal, which has angered many in Britain and seen dozens of politicians and officials investigated over allegations that the government flouted its own pandemic restrictions.
“The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices,” a spokesperson for Johnson’s office said. “We have no further details, but we will update you again when we do.”
The amounts of the fines were not specified. There is quite a possible range of what they might be, however. During the lockdowns, thousands of people who left their homes and attended gatherings in defiance of Johnson’s orders were fined anywhere from 60 pounds ($79) to 10,000 pounds ($13,200). One would imagine that a person in Johnson’s position would fall somewhere closer to the top of the scale.
So is this the end of it? The investigation has concluded and fines have been levied and an apology has been given. You might think that would be enough, but that’s not how British politics works. We may only be at the beginning of the end.
There were members of the opposition Labour Party in Parliament calling for Johnson’s resignation last year. Even some members of his own party chimed in, saying that if the investigation determined that he had violated his own rules and was fined for it, he should resign. I suppose it’s possible, but BoJo could also argue that the world is in the middle of a crisis with Ukraine right now and he’s been a major player in addressing the issue, so it would be unwise to disrupt the country’s leadership at this juncture.
Of course, Parliament can’t force Johnson to resign. But if the calls for his resignation are numerous and he refuses, Parliament can call for a vote of no confidence. If the vote succeeds, Johnson and his entire cabinet would have to resign immediately. Following the repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, what happens after that is a bit fuzzy, but it generally results in the calling of a new general election. Is that where the Brits are currently heading because of Partygate? I suppose it’s possible, but the longer Johnson remains in office, the more he will be seen as having momentum on his side and the greater the likelihood that he’ll stick around.