UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been informed that he will receive a fixed penalty notice from police over his attendance at parties over the past two years, in breach of the Covid lockdown rules his own government had set.
The announcement marks the first time in British history that a sitting prime minister has been found to have broken the law.
In addition to the prime minister, UK finance minister Rishi Sunak is also set to receive a financial penalty over his attendance at social gatherings. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that they had issued over 50 fines in relation to various gatherings through the course of 2020 and 2021.
Police declined to name all of those to receive fines, but the UK government had previously promised it would disclose if Johnson or Sunak were amongst those to be found in breach of the law.
The announcement prompted fresh calls for the embattled pair to resign. The scandal known as ‘Partygate’ has been hanging over the ruling Conservative Party since last year, with fresh allegations keeping the story in the public discourse for months. Sunak has been facing additional questions in the past week over his tax affairs and those of his wife.
Leading the calls for the pair’s resignation was opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer.
“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better,” Starmer tweeted.
Johnson had initially denied his attendance at any gatherings, before later confirming he had attended some events but insisting that he viewed them as work events and permissible within the guidelines set by his government. As further details became public, such as messages implicitly calling the events ‘parties’ and making arrangements for alcohol purchases, the prime minister’s claims appeared all the more fantastical.
It is not clear which gatherings in particular Johnson and Sunak have received penalties for attending. The government statement confirming the decision failed to provide any specific details.