Boris Johnson has become the first prime minister the in the UK’s history to be penalised for breaking the law. The top politician has been slapped with a fine for attending a party two years ago while the rest of the country suffered under hard lockdown.
Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police, was called in to investigate what’s become known in Britain as the Partygate scandal after several politicians were thought to have attended parties that took place on official grounds between 2020 and 2021.
Now police officials have found that Boris; his wife, Carrie Johnson; and chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak breached Covid-19 restrictions when they attend an illegal gathering on 19 June 2020 at 10 Downing Street, the PM’s official office and residence.
The trio are among 30 who’ve been handed a fixed £50 fine (about R950).
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The British PM has since issued an apology. Though he accepts the punishment, Johnson says the party was a small gathering for his birthday that lasted “less than 10 minutes”. He also claims he was unaware that he had done anything wrong.
“I have to say that at that time it did not occur to me that I was in breach of the rules. But of course, the police have found otherwise, and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation,” he says.
Johnson has come under fire for flouting the laws he created in his country. According to a snap poll conducted by YouGov, 75% of people believe that he lied about not knowing he was breaking the rules. A separate survey by Savanta ComRes showed that 61% of voters want him to quit.
Despite their waning popularity, both Johnson and Sunak have dismissed calls for their resignations. Instead, the PM says the incident has made him more determined. “The best thing I can do, having paid the fine, is to focus on the job at hand,” Johnson says.
“I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people.”
Sources: Daily Mail, The Guardian, Sky news