Boris Johnson should resign over Partygate: that is the clear view taken by the former Croydon Central MP. But having law-breakers running the country at Westminster won’t affect how he votes in next month’s Town Hall elections. By WALTER CRONXITE, Political Editor
Gavin, “Lord”, Barwell, the former Conservative MP and sometime colleague of Boris Johnson, has given the firmest indication yet that he believes the lying, philandering and law-breaking Prime Minister should resign.
Barwell issued one of his typically gnomic tweets last night (he clearly enjoys being called up by researchers for Peston or Newsnight for his two-bob “insights”), reacting to the news that Johnson has become the first Prime Minister in history to be caught breaking the law.
Johnson and his Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, have both been issued fixed-penalty notices by the police for breaking the covid laws by attending parties and piss-ups in Downing Street when the rest of the nation was under strict lockdown.
Johnson and Sunak have both issued apologies, but no more than that. This despite the Prime Minister having repeatedly lied to Parliament over his attendance at these illegal parties. A total of 80 FPNs have now been issued by the Metropolitan Police for attending the illegal parties, including one to Carrie Johnson, the wife of the Prime Minister.
More penalties are expected to be announced imminently – conveniently, while Parliament is in recess and Johnson has his feet up at Chequers – and there is a strong possibility that Johnson and Sunak, as well as other senior figures from the Conservative government, will be on the end of further token fines.
Barwell and Croydon’s Conservatives are heading towards next month’s local elections surrounded by a political storm caused by Tory sleaze, which as well as Partygate takes in awarding dodgy PPI contracts to their mates worth billions, while inflation today hit 7per cent, making the cost of living crisis all the more painful for thousands of voters.
They also have to contend with the betrayal felt by thousands who were unable to be with dying loved ones, attend funerals or hold birthday parties for their own young children because of the Prime Minister’s coronavirus laws.
The fine for Johnson came after he attended a party in the Cabinet Room at No10 for his birthday on June 19, 2020. Sunak and Carrie Johnson were also there. All three say that they paid their fines yesterday – £50 each for “prompt” payment.
Police are looking into 12 events that took place in Downing Street and Whitehall between May 2020 and April 2021. They say that 100 people were sent formal legal questionnaires. They are still investigating up to six further gatherings, where Johnson is said to have been present.
Johnson and Sunak are thought to be the first serving Prime Minister or Chancellor of the Exchequer to be criminally sanctioned. Both are also accused of misleading parliament by previously denying they had attended parties during lockdown.
There was speculation in Westminster last night that Sunak, after a fortnight of critical headlines over his multi-millionaire wife’s non-dom tax affairs, was close to resigning, an act which would have surely placed Johnson in a corner from which there was no escape.
In the end, an apology was all that was offered, as Tory ministers and MPs rallied round with statements of support. In Johnson’s apology, he claimed that it “did not occur” to him that the event was wrong and that he had spoken “in good faith” in the House of Commons when he said all rules were followed in Downing Street.
But it does not appear that this is good enough for some, even Conservative party party Party grandees, of which Barwell is now.
Barwell was the MP for Croydon Central from 2010 to 2017 and was then Theresa May’s Chief of Staff when she was Prime Minister, before being elevated to the House of Lords. Barwell has known Johnson for many years, including working together with him when Johnson was Mayor of London to inflict the Westfield disaster on Croydon town centre.
Last night, Barwell tweeted, “If the PM accepts the penalty notice, he is admitting he broke the law and lied.
“He won’t resign… so whether he stays is in the hands of Conservative MPs. What they decide will define their and the party’s reputation for the foreseeable future.”
That’s them told, then.
Barwell proceeded to over-Tweet a couple of YouGov polls, including one which has 75per cent of the British public accusing their Prime Minister of being a liar.
“By more than 6:1 the public think the Prime Minister knowingly lied,” Barwell said.
And he added, “By nearly 2:1 they think he should resign.”
Yet despite all this, and despite Barwell’s warning to Conservative MPs about their party party party’s “reputation for the foreseeable future”, Barwell says he intends to vote out the Labour council in Croydon.
Responding to a goading tweet about liar Johnson from the Croydon Labour account, Barwell wrote, “My views on the PM’s behaviour are well-known, but when I vote in next May’s council elections, what will be at the front of my mind is how you bankrupted our town.
“Can’t think of an election I have voted in where the incumbent so deserved to lose.”
Perhaps oddly, Barwell did not bring himself to state that he would be voting Conservative, either for Mayor or in his home ward, Sanderstead.
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