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Partygate: Boris Johnson to face scrutiny from senior MPs as COVID rule-breaking scandal re-emerges

Boris Johnson is set to face further scrutiny from senior MPs over the “partygate” scandal after it was announced the first of 20 lockdown fines would be issued.

Mr Johnson is expected to be questioned about the Russian war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis when he appears before leading MPs on the Commons liaison committee from 3pm on Wednesday.

He is now also likely to face further questions about “partygate” since the Metropolitan Police announced the first 20 fines over lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall are to be issued.

Read more:
All you need to know about the Met’s partygate investigation

Downing Street has continued to deny that Mr Johnson misled the Commons when he told MPs that COVID regulations had not been broken in No 10.

It is thought the prime minister attended as many as six of the 12 alleged lockdown-busting events under investigation by Scotland Yard.

‘Slap in the face to millions’

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said “Boris Johnson’s Downing Street has been found guilty of breaking the law” as she urged him to resign.

“The culture is set from the top,” she said.

“The buck stops with the prime minister, who spent months lying to the British public, which is why he’s got to go.

“This has been a slap in the face of the millions of people who made huge sacrifices.”

Ms Rayner told Sky News that “anyone in the government that decides to break their own rules”, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak as well as Mr Johnson, ought to resign if they are fined.

War has changed minds

A total of 14 Conservative MPs had publicly called for Mr Johnson to resign over the partygate scandal and many more privately expressed strong reservations but many have rowed back on their comments since the Ukraine war started nearly five weeks ago.

Sir Bernard Jenkin, the Tory chair of the liaison committee, had to pull out of the session on Tuesday after contracting COVID. The committee will instead appoint an acting chair.

The committee, made up of chairs of different select committees, is also expected to question Mr Johnson about the cost of living crisis and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson told his cabinet there are “no easy answers” to resolving the cost of living crisis, prompted by soaring energy bills and prices rising at their fastest rate for a generation.

Mr Johnson also pledged to “coordinate closely” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the days ahead as he reiterated the UK’s commitment to strengthening economic pressure on Moscow.

It will be the first time Mr Johnson has faced the committee since the partygate scandal gathered momentum.

His appearance in November was dominated by questions related to former Tory minister Owen Paterson, who was at the centre of a Westminster sleaze row last year.

Mr Johnson admitted Mr Paterson broke lobbying rules, despite the prime minister encouraging a bid to save Mr Paterson from a House of Commons suspension two weeks earlier.



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