Boris Johnson claims Partygate scandal matters little to voters

Prime minister thought to have been at six of 12 events under investigation by Scotland Yard

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the House of Commons in London on April 20. UK Parliament / AP
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that the Partygate scandal matters little to voters and vowed to fight the next election no matter how many times he is fined for breaching coronavirus lockdown laws.

Mr Johnson will be on a trip to India when a motion calling for a House of Commons investigation into whether he lied to Parliament takes place on Thursday.

The government has tabled an amendment to delay the vote until the Metropolitan Police’s inquiry into lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall has concluded, and the report by senior civil servant Sue Gray report has been published.

This will allow MPs “to have all the facts at their disposal” when they make a decision, it said.

It is understood that all Conservative MPs will be made to support the amendment.

Tory politicians were facing pressure to back the opposition bid for a Commons privileges committee investigation after Mr Johnson was fined by police over a birthday party during lockdown in 2020.

He tried to avoid discussing Partygate on the flight to Gujarat, including when asked to give a direct message to Tory MPs who are putting their reputations on the line with the vote.

Asked if he would fight the next general election, Mr Johnson replied: “Of course.”

Pressed on whether there were no circumstances under which he would consider resigning, he said: “Not a lot that spring to mind at the moment.

“But if you want to sketch some out I’m sure you could entertain your viewers with some imaginary circumstances in which I might have to resign, but I don’t propose to go into them. I can’t think of them right now.”

Mr Johnson’s aides are braced for him to receive more fines, having already been handed one fixed-penalty notice for the gathering for his 56th birthday.

He is thought to have been at six of the 12 events under investigation by Scotland Yard.

“Politics has taught me one thing, which is you’re better off talking and focusing on the things that matter, the things that make a real difference to the electorate, and not about politicians themselves,” Mr Johnson said.

Asked if that meant Partygate did not matter to the public, he said: “You’re better off talking about things other than politicians themselves, is my view.”

Mr Johnson apologised during a bruising Commons debate on Wednesday for falling foul of Covid laws.

When MPs vote on Thursday, Conservatives will be urged to back the government’s amendment to delay making a decision on whether to launch an inquiry until all other investigations finish.

Mr Johnson sought to justify the position, which comes after Tory MP Craig Whittaker called for him to refer himself to an investigation to end the saga.

“I think the best thing is if the investigation is concluded," he said. "There’s a police investigation that has not concluded. We have to wait for that and then for Sue Gray to have her final say.

“I think we need to wait and see where it gets."

Updated: April 21, 2022, 3:40 PM
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