Boris Johnson refuses to say if he will resign if found to have broken law
A former Conservative prime minister has said it is clear Boris Johnson and some of his officials “broke lockdown laws”, and suggested Mr Johnson will have to stand down if police discover he lied to parliament about his knowledge of parties at No 10.
In a fierce attack on the government, Sir John Major condemned the “unbelievable” excuses used to deny that rules were flouted, warning they are shattering the public’s trust in politics and politicians.
“The lack of trust in the elected portion of our democracy cannot be brushed aside. Parliament has a duty to correct this,” he told a crowd of reporters at the Institute for Government. “If it does not, and trust is lost at home, our politics is broken.”
Sir John’s intervention came a day after the Metropolitan Police said they were reviewing their assessment that a Downing Street Christmas quiz did not meet the threshold for criminal investigation, following publication of a new image showing Mr Johnson and three staff members near an open bottle of bubbly at the event on 15 December 2020. Indoor social mixing was banned in London at the time.
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Watch: Ex-Tory MP John Major accuses PM of ‘breaking lockdown laws’
Boris Johnson ‘broke lockdown laws’, says John Major
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 12:05
Major: NI protocol ‘one of worst pieces of negotiation seen in recent history’
Amid his scathing attack on the government’s standards, ex-PM John Major also took aim at the Northern Ireland Protocol, calling it “arguably one of the worst pieces of negotiation that we have seen in recent history”.
As BBC Newsnight’s Lewis Goodall reports:
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 12:02
Partygate: ‘Some, not all, No 10 staff will receive fines,’ says Met comissioner
Cressida Dick, the Met Police’s commissioner, has been on the radio waves defending her position amid findings of misogyny, sexism and racism in the force.
While discussing the scandal, she also took questions about the Met’s Partygate investigation, codenamed Operation Hillman.
As laid out by our very own Adam Forrest:
Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick has told BBC London that she couldn’t give a “running commentary” on the Partygate investigation, adding: “It would be quite inappropriate for me to say, at this stage, what the investigation will find.”
But she did reveal that “some” of the 50 government staff asked questions may get fixed penalty notices. “We will be writing with a questionnaire to over 50 people as part of the investigation to ask them to account for what they were doing,” said the Scotland Yard boss.
She said: “Clearly, some, but probably not all of those people may very well end up with … a fixed penalty notice.”
Dame Cressida added: “I recognise this is something that has hugely disgust many members of the public.”
Asked about the role of officers, she said: “It would be quite wrong for me to comment on whether anyone who works for the Met, did or do not know, what your describe as ‘what’s going on’, because that is part of the investigation.”
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 11:57
‘Outright lies breed contempt,’ Major says of PM’s government
On Mr Johnson’s conduct, John Major says: “When ministers respond to legitimate questions with pre-prepared soundbites, or half-truths, or misdirection, or wild exaggeration, then respect for government and politics dies a little more.
“Misleading replies to questions invite disillusion. Outright lies breed contempt.”
And he added: “The prime minister and our present government not only challenge the Law, but also seem to believe that they – and they alone – need not obey the rules, traditions, conventions – call them what you will – of public life.”
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 11:32
Major appears to attack PM for inciting Starmer Savile mob
Let’s stick with John Major’s speech for now.
In his address to the Institute for Government, Sir John also:
* Appears to blame Boris Johnson for the hounding of Keir Starmer over the Jimmy Savile smear – saying: “Lies can become accepted as fact, as the Speaker has pointed out.”
* Attacks the Borders Bill for planning four-year jail terms to asylum seekers reaching the UK by an “unsanctioned route” – calling it “punishment without compassion”.
* Attacks moves to “allow the police to impose conditions on protest marches likely to be ‘noisy’”.
* On the BBC, warns “undermining it and starving it of funds is self-defeating for UK interests”.
* Warns the UK’s reputation abroad is being “shredded” because of the government’s “conduct – saying: “We are weakening our influence in the world.”
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 11:19
BREAKING: John Major says PM must quit if he lied about parties
John Major has just begun a keynote speech in London, where is speaking about trust in politics and democracy.
He says it is clear that Boris Johnson broke lockdown rules at No 10 parties and is calling for him to be forced from office if he is found to have lied. In a rare intervention, the former Conservative PM’s attack condemns the “unbelievable” excuses used to deny that rules were flouted – warning they are shattering the public’s trust in politics.
Sir John argues that “deliberate lies to parliament have been fatal to political careers – and must always be so”.
He adds: “At No 10, the prime minister and officials broke lockdown laws. Brazen excuses were dreamed up. Day after day the public was asked to believe the unbelievable. The lack of trust in the elected portion of our democracy cannot be brushed aside. Parliament has a duty to correct this. If it does not, and trust is lost at home, our politics is broken.”
Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more:
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 11:08
UK ‘edging closer to flawed democracy’, say experts
In other new, Britain is moving closer to “flawed democracy” status, according to an international index that champions freedom, civil liberties and good governance.
The UK dropped two places in the global democracy rankings, with experts citing a series of scandals that have undermined trust in Boris Johnson’s government, writes Adam Forrest.
The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) placed the nation in 18th place in its latest democracy rankings, behind Taiwan and Uruguay, with an overall score of 8.10 out of 10 – a decline from 8.54 the previous year.
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 10:49
Watch: PM refuses to say if he will resign if found to have broken law
Boris Johnson refuses to say if he will resign if found to have broken law
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 10:42
For more updates on Ukraine, you can head to our live blog for all the latest updates on the crisis.
Stay put for all the latest Westminster updates, including the Partygate investigation.
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 10:38
Partygate: PM refuses to say if he will resign if found to have broken law
Over in Brussels, where Boris Johnson has just wrapped up a press conference alongside Nato’s general secretary Jens Stoltenberg, the prime minister has refused to clarify whether he will step down if he is found to have broken the law.
He was asked the question by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, who reminded Mr Johnson “people at home” would want to know his position.
Asked plainly if he would resign “should police find you have broken the law” over the court of the current Partygate investigation, codenamed Operation Hillman, Mr Johnson said only: “That process must be completed, and I’m looking forward to it being completed, but that’s the time to say more on that.”
After finishing up his answer to Ms Kuenssberg’s second question, about how the UK can support Ukraine further, the journalist pushed Mr Johnson on the question he hadn’t answered.
She asked again, “will you resign?”, but was met with the same answer. “We’re going to wait until the process has been completed,” the PM said again.
Sam Hancock10 February 2022 10:36