The Prime Minister yesterday, on Tuesday, issued a “full apology” after being given a fixed-penalty notice for breaking his own lockdown rules by attending a party for his birthday in Number 10. He refused to step down from his position, insisting he now feels “an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people”.
Now, Justice Minister David Wolfson has tendered his resignation as Justice Minister over “repeated rule-breaking and breaches of the criminal law in Downing Street”.
In a damning letter sent to the Prime Minister, Lord Wolfson wrote: “I have – again, with considerable regret – come to the conclusion that the scale, context and nature of those breaches mean that would be inconsistent win the rule or law for that conduct to pass with constitutional impunity, especially when many in society complied with the rules at great personal cost, and others were fined or prosecuted for similar, and sometimes apparently more trivial, offences.
“It is not just a question of what happened in Downing Street, or your own conduct. It is also, and perhaps more so, the official response to what look place.
“As we obviously do not share that view of these maters, I must ask you to accent my resignation.”
Many senior Tories have citied the ongoing war in Ukraine while defending Mr Johnson’s decision to stay in office after being handed a fine by the Metropolitan Police.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab announced his support of the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak, who has also been issued with a ‘Partygate’ fine, noting: “I fully support the PM and Chancellor as they focus on maintaining the UK’s international leadership against Russian brutality in Ukraine.”
Lord Wolfson suggested, however, the Government’s efforts to defend Ukraine were compromised by rule breaking at Number 10.
He told Mr Johnson the UK can only “credibly defend democratic norms abroad, especially at a time of war in Europe… if we are, and are seen to be, resolutely committed both to the observance of the law and also to the rule of law”.
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It has been suggested more fines will follow.
Mr Sunak “agonised for hours” over whether to resign yesterday, on Tuesday, after being issued with his fixed penalty notice, according to the Times.
It is understood he had opted to leave front-line politics but was persuaded not to do so by friends who warned him this would be an act of “regicide” against Mr Johnson.
This comes only months after the Chancellor was tipped to replace Boris as Prime Minister, with one Tory backbencher telling Express.co.uk in February: “Rishi is on manoeuvre.”
Speaking about the party he attended in June 2020 yesterday at Chequers, Mr Johnson said: “I have to say in good frankness at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules. But of course the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation.”
Lord Wolfson has served in the Government as Justice Minister since December 2020.