It would be irresponsible Johnson breathes easier as expert warns challenge unlikely

Tory leadership contest would be ‘irresponsible’ says expert

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Timothy Montgomerie, political activist and columnist, defended No10’s refusal to accept rules were broken across Government during the pandemic, arguing that the focus should remain on Ukraine. He said that by accepting failure, Boris Johnson would be throwing the Conservative Party “into a three-month leadership consent” that would serve as a distraction from Ukraine.

The political commentator told GB News: “I don’t think the Government can hide behind the Ukraine war forever.

“But the world would look at Britain changing a Prime Minister now, in the middle of this crisis, and think that we’d gone crazy.

“It does matter that this Government broke the Partygate rules, that they told the whole population to do one thing and then did another.

“But in the middle of a war situation, I think it would be irresponsible for the Conservative Party to throw itself into probably what would be a three-month leadership contest.”

Mr Montgomerie added, however, that there were significant issues with the current Government, accusing the Prime Minister of “losing control” of Downing Street during the pandemic.

He said: “[Johnson] told the House of Commons that there had been no breaches when clearly there were.

“I think he is guilty of setting up a culture in Downing Street where rule breaches seem to be acceptable.”

Speaking on the recent reordering of Downing Street, Mr Montgomerie added: “Perhaps the situation has improved but clearly there are questions to answer.”

Partygate: Keir Starmer asks why Boris Johnson hasn't resigned

The Metropolitan Police announced on Tuesday that they would be handing out 20 fines to people who attended lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab told BBC this morning that “it is clear there were breaches of the law”, though he went on to defend the PM, saying he had never “misled” Parliament.

But Downing Street has since denied that the findings revealed any laws had been broken by those attending the parties, refuting Raab’s claims.

No10 also confirmed that the Prime Minister is not among those to be fined, adding that no one facing a penalty would be required to make their identity known to the public.

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The Prime Minister was among 100 people who were required to fill out legal questionnaires relating to the investigation of 12 parties across eight days between 2020 and 2021.

The questioning was part of Operation Hillman, which was launched in January after the Met was criticised for not taking a harder stance on the parties.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner made renewed calls for the PM to resign on Wednesday following the announcement of 20 fines last night.

She said: “The buck stops with the Prime Minister, who spent months lying to the British public, which is why he’s got to go.”

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