Boris Johnson likened to Vladimir Putin amid row over Partygate fines

The Prime Minister was found to have breached Covid-19 regulations following the police probe into allegations of lockdown parties held at Downing Street

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Boris Johnson has been likened to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the row over the Partygate fines issued yesterday afternoon.

Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were found by the Metropolitan Police to have breached Covid-19 regulations following the police probe into allegations of lockdown parties held at Downing Street.

Speaking with GB News, political scientist Sir John Curtice likened Mr Johnson’s alleged dishonesty over the scandal to that of Putin’s, who has been accused of lying to Russia about the war in Ukraine.

He added that Mr Johnson’s likelihood of remaining Prime Minister will depend mostly on the judgment of his peers.

Sir John said: “Some Conservative MPs will probably take not just simply a political judgement, but an ethical judgement.

Political Scientist Sir John Curtice
Political Scientist Sir John Curtice
Boris Johnson and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Boris Johnson and Russian President Vladimir Putin

"Some of them will say this is not what Prime Ministers do, they don't break the law."

He continued: “There is of course, in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, another consideration, which is that if we're attacking Putin for being economical with the truth and breaking the law, to end up with a Prime Minister, who arguably could be accused of the same thing, actually, there's a rather greater premium on this.

“Some Conservative MPs will just feel that this is not what happens."

Since the damning Sue Gray Partygate report and issuing of fines, there have been a chorus of demands for the Commons to be recalled from its two-week Easter break to allow the PM to “tender his resignation” in person to MPs.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak did not seem to understand how “deeply offensive” their rule breaches were, as she called for “fresh leadership”.

She said the Prime Minister’s claim that he unknowingly broke the rules was not a sufficient explanation, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He is still obfuscating and saying, oh he still didn’t really realise he was breaking the rules and he just happened to be in this room at the time… It’s just not good enough.

“People have never made, collectively or personally, the sacrifices that were made during the pandemic outside of wartime and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor still don’t seem to understand how deeply offensive it is, especially to those who lost loved ones, or who were not there for the birth of their child, or for the death of a loved one.”

Cabinet ministers have jumped to Mr Johnson's defence.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this morning that he is “human” and did not knowingly break the law.

He said: “Everyone is human, people sometimes make mistakes.”

Dozens of other Tory MPs have shown their support for the Prime Minister on social media, with many praising his leadership during Covid-19 and Brexit and pointing to the war in Ukraine.

The latest fines came in a further tranche of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) announced by Scotland Yard in relation to Operation Hillman, which is probing possible Covid breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall.

More than 50 fines have been referred to the Acro Criminal Records Office since the inquiry started.

Mr Johnson did not rule out the prospect he could be fined again for further events.

He is reported to have attended six of the 12 under investigation.