PartyGate: What does the latest update really mean?
PartyGate had dropped out of the news for some time – with the ongoing war in Ukraine dominating the papers, it was easy to forget the Downing Street scandal.
But today, on a day when the Royal family and politicians attended a memorial service for Prince Philip – news that the Met Police will be issuing fines to 20 individuals who unlawfully attended pirates in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office – confirming PM Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons on December 8.
PM misled the Commons – but did he do it knowingly?
On December 8 PM Boris Johnson told Labour’s Keir Starmer: “I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken. I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken.”
But it’s come to light that there were plenty of parties held during a time when Covid-19 rules banned gatherings.
What remains unclear is if the PM knowingly misled the House of Commons – if he knew he was lying that would mean under the prevailing conventions he would have to resign.
But if the PM was misled by his own officials and then misled the House of Commons he would need to come back to Parliament and correct the record – something that would be embarrassing for the prime minister.
There’s no information on who will receive the fines and we may never know any of them because they are likely to be informed privately and are under no obligation to tell anyone.
Downing Street has said the prime minister will disclose if he is fined. If he is fined, MPs will have to decide if he should remain in power.