Lockdown party fines: Mark Drakeford calls for Johnson and Sunak to go

Published
Related Topics
Boris JohnsonImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Boris Johnson said he "fully respects" the outcome of the Metropolitan Police investigation

Wales' first minister has called for the prime minister and chancellor to go after the news the two senior Tories were fined for breaking lockdown rules.

Boris Johnson apologised on Tuesday evening, but said he did not know he had broken the law at the time. Mr Sunak has also since apologised.

Mark Drakeford said the pair has lost any authority to carry on.

But Welsh Conservative Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies called on Mr Johnson to remain in office.

He said Boris Johnson's "steadfast leadership in supporting Ukraine" should continue.

Plaid Cymru's Liz Saville Roberts also called for the pair to quit.

Mr Johnson confirmed his fine related to a birthday party on 19 June 2020. The prime minister's wife, Carrie Johnson, has also paid a fine in relation to the event.

It follows an investigation by the Metropolitan Police into illegal parties in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.

Mr Johnson said he "fell short" of observing his own rules but said he felt a duty to "get on with the job" and "deliver on the priorities of the British people".

After hours of silence, Rishi Sunak apologised and said he deeply regrets the "frustration and anger" over the lockdown breach.

Speaking to BBC Wales before Mr Johnson's apology, Mr Drakeford said the prime minister was either "stupid" when he told the Commons he had done nothing wrong, or "knew that what he was saying was untrue".

The first minister said: "Both have been found to have broken the law, the law that they themselves put on the statute book, the law that they required everybody else to follow.

"They've simply lost any form of authority to carry on and they should go."

Mr Drakeford called for a general election, but if one is not called Mr Drakeford said Tory MPs should "do the decent thing".

"They should just allow the basic principles of common decency to prevail," he said.

Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Tory Senedd leader, said the issue was for "the prime minister and the chancellor to address".

"People will understandably want to hear from them about today's events," he said.

"With the aggression and devastation we are seeing in Ukraine at the moment, Ukraine needs a strong UK ally supporting their noble fight against Putin's aggression.

"It is therefore important the prime minister addresses today's events but continues his steadfast leadership in supporting Ukraine in their hour of need."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Speaking privately, one Welsh Tory MP said they were "going to have a long think about" whether Boris Johnson should go as party leader.

"The question has to be asked whether the country has been run in a certain way over the past few weeks to keep someone in a job," they said.

But he added: "There is now another cabinet minister [Sunak] involved, which leaves Liz Truss as the alternative. We have got to have the best person running the country, and if he does go what does that mean?"

But another Tory MP said the prime minister's support for Ukraine had been "outstanding".

To remove Mr Johnson "at this moment would be unbelievable folly", they added.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart tweeted: "Having struggled to see family in hospital as the virus spread, I know how hard this period has been.

"That said, the breaches have now been appropriately dealt with and I will continue to give the PM & Chancellor my full support to deal with the extraordinary challenges we face."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

'Even more pain'

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru group said the news adds "even more pain to grieving families across the UK".

"It is frankly unbelievable to think that the [UK government] were partying whilst we were living through our darkest times."

Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru leader in the House of Commons, said: "I am appalled at the sheer bad judgement which can only be attributed to an arrogant sense of exceptionalism and a belief in their own entitlement.

"If they have any honour they will resign."

'Full apology'

Mr Johnson said: "Today I've received a fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police relating to an event in Downing Street on June 19 2020.

"I've paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology and in the spirit of openness and humility I want to be completely clear about what happened on that date.

"My day began shortly after 7am and I chaired eight meetings in Number 10, including the Cabinet committee deciding Covid strategy.

"I visited a school in Hemel Hempstead, which took me out of Downing Street for over four hours and amongst all these engagements on a day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the cabinet room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes.

"And I have to say in all frankness at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules."

The prime minister said he "fully respects" the outcome of the Metropolitan Police investigation and that he accepts "in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better".