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Boris Johnson set to apologise to MPs over lockdown breach

Boris Johnson is to make his first statement to Parliament since being fined by police for breaking lockdown rules.

The prime minister is expected to apologise to MPs after being fined over a birthday gathering at the Cabinet Room in Downing Street in June 2020.

His wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were also fined over the party.

Opposition parties believe Mr Johnson deliberately misled parliament and could push for a vote on this.

Labour’s shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said opposition parties were looking at “various ways” Parliament could hold the prime minister to account and would be “updating soon” but added, the “responsibility lies heavily on the shoulders of the Conservative MPs”.

Labour sources have said options could include a vote on whether the prime minister misled Parliament or on referring him to a parliamentary committee to investigate. 

Under government rules, ministers are expected to resign for knowingly misleading MPs – and to correct the record as soon as possible if they inadvertently tell Parliament something false.

Following the announcement that he had received a fixed penalty notice Mr Johnson said he “fell short” of his own rules and people “had the right to expect better” from him.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the prime minister did not “knowingly” mislead Parliament.

He said: “When the PM spoke in Parliament he didn’t knowingly appreciate that stepping into the room there was going to be something which breached the rules.”

“It was wrong, he’s apologised, he’s accepted the fixed penalty notice and we move on.”

A No 10 source added that Mr Johnson spoke “in good faith” when he told MPs late last year no rules were broken – and blamed former aides for giving the PM wrong information. 

After becoming the first serving UK prime minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law, Mr Johnson is expected to argue more pressing matters – such as the war in Ukraine – must now take priority.

Conservative backbencher Tobias Ellwood said many MPs continued to be “numbed” by the prime minister’s response and were “very concerned by where we’re going”.

He told BBC Breakfast Mr Johnson should allow a non-confidence vote in his leadership after the local elections on 5 May to “recognise whether we all support the PM and we march forward, or if it is time for change”.

Speaking to the same programme, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the prime minister continued to have his support, adding that he was changing operations at No 10 after recognising that there were “things that happened at No 10 that he understands why people would be angry about”.

Source: BBC

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