Labour steps up calls for Johnson to resign over ‘partygate’ fine

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said the Prime Minister has crossed a ‘red line’ and should go for the sake of the democratic process.

20 April 2022

Labour has stepped up calls for Boris Johnson to resign, saying it was clear the Prime Minister lied to Parliament over lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said the Prime Minister had crossed a “red line” and should go for the sake of the integrity of the democratic process in the UK.

Ministers insisted that Mr Johnson – who flies out to India later on Wednesday for trade talks – was getting on with the job of leading the country.

Angela Rayner
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson had crossed a ‘red line’ and should go (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Business Minister Paul Scully said there was an “element of politics” about opposition calls for the Prime Minister to quit.

But he acknowledged that Mr Johnson needed to rebuild public trust after the disclosure that he had been fined by police for breaking lockdown rules.

In the Commons on Tuesday, the Prime Minister repeatedly apologised to MPs but insisted he had not believed a gathering in the Cabinet Room in No 10 to mark his 56th birthday had violated the regulations in place at the time.

Labour, however, is set to table a motion calling for him to be referred to the Commons Privileges Committee for a vote by MPs on Thursday.

Ms Rayner said Mr Johnson must be held to account for his conduct, which she described a “reckless and dangerous”.

“We need a Prime Minister people have trust and confidence in,” she told Sky News.

“It is a red line – if the Prime Minister of this country believes they can break the Ministerial Code, lie to the British public and get away with it, then frankly all bets are off for our rules and democratic process.

“This Prime Minister thinks the rules don’t apply to him and that is reckless and dangerous. Nobody is indispensable and nobody is above the law in this country.”

Mr Johnson’s trade mission to India means that he will miss the vote on Thursday.

Opinion poll
(PA Graphics)

However, the Government looks unlikely to be defeated with little mood among Tory MPs to force a leadership crisis at home amid an international crisis over Ukraine.

Mr Scully insisted Mr Johnson had not “knowingly” misled Parliament when he told MPs last year that there had been no breach of the rules and there had not been any parties.

However, he acknowledged the situation had not been well-handled when the reports first emerged of the goings-on in Whitehall and that the public remained angry at what had happened.

“Clearly we didn’t deal with the ongoing situation (at) Christmas when ‘partygate’ did start to become a thing, we didn’t handle it particularly well at that point communication-wise,” Mr Scully told BBC Breakfast.

“Nonetheless, the Prime Minister has gripped it, he has apologised, he’s accepted the fine, he has accepted the finding of the police, and he does want to move on.

“Now that’s difficult, because he has got to rebuild trust with people who are angry, who are frustrated, but that is the challenge that we have.”

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