Boris Johnson may face further future fines warns Hope
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As support continued shore-up behind the Prime Minister in the wake of the partygate scandal the former Brexit Secretary said he is confident Mr Johnson will continue to lead the Conservative Party for at least another two years. “I believe he will if he does the right things – if he makes his case, makes clear what goes on, regularises the position with Parliament,” he told LBC.
“We’ve got the energy crisis, we’ve got a lot of things going on. It’s going to be extremely difficult, I think people recognise that.
“But I think when it comes to making a choice between Conservatives and Labour, the record of this Government, Boris Johnson’s leadership capabilities, the fact that we will have delivered so much, will be important.
“So yes, I’m confident he will – but we must do the right things in these two years that remain to us.”
The vote of confidence came 24 hours after the Prime Minister was fined by the police for breaking Covid laws in 2020.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also defended the PM, saying he his “mortified” about what has happened.
“He’s frankly embarrassed, he appreciates that what happened was wrong and indefensible. Frankly, he is mortified,” he told the BBC.
On whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament, Mr Shapps told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: “I don’t think he knowingly broke the laws when he came to Parliament. We now know that the Metropolitan Police have said that he shouldn’t have stepped into the Cabinet Room when staff had organised a surprise.
“I don’t think he came to Parliament thinking that that breached the rules.”
A Home Office source said Mr Johnson has Home Secretary Priti Patel’s “full support”.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said the Prime Minister is a “truthful man”.
Despite growing support, Mr Johnson has been warned he could face Partygate fines totalling £10,000 if he is punished for attending a string of law-breaking Downing Street events.
He is reported to have attended six of the 12 under investigation.
It came as the first Tory MP broke ranks to demand Mr Johnson step down after being found to have broken the law.
Nigel Mills, who represents Amber Valley in Derbyshire, told BBC Radio Derby: “In all conscience I don’t think a prime minister can survive or should survive breaking the rules he put in place and he was on the TV every few nights, reminding us all that we should observe.
“We have to have higher standards than that of people at the top. He has been fined, I don’t think his position is tenable, in my view.”
Rishi Sunak reportedly had to be talked out of quitting as Chancellor after he was also fined by the Met Police.
Mr Sunak is said to have relented because it would have taken down the Prime Minister as well.
A source said: “Rishi’s view is he was just there for a meeting, and now he’s getting humiliated for something he never wanted to do. He is a man of honour and he genuinely is thinking about whether he can still be part of this.”
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak do not seem to understand how “deeply offensive” their lockdown breaches are.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “People have never made, collectively or personally, the sacrifices that were made during the pandemic outside of wartime and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor still don’t seem to understand how deeply offensive it is, especially to those who lost loved ones, or who were not there for the birth of their child, or for the death of a loved one.”
Tuesday’s fines came in a further tranche of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) announced by Scotland Yard in relation to Operation Hillman, which is probing possible Covid breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall.
More than 50 fines have been referred to the Acro Criminal Records Office since the inquiry started.
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