Boris Johnson ‘m mortified’ after Covid party in cabinet room

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Boris Johnson ‘m mortified’ after Covid party in cabinet room

Boris Johnson is mortified after breaking Covid rules by having had a birthday gathering in the cabinet room, but is one of his cabinet ministers.

After Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, were fined by the police, Grant Shapps, transport secretary, was sent out to defend the prime minister.

He said the prime minister was sorry but went on to minimise the event by saying Johnson had just walked into a room where people were gathered to wish him a happy birthday for 10 minutes.

Shapps insisted Johnson acted without malice and did not knowingly break laws. The cabinet minister said he was simply meeting with other people he had seen for work purposes earlier in the day, although this contradicts reports that his interior designer Lulu Lytle, who was carrying out renovations in No 10, was also present. Carrie, Johnson's wife, who was also present and has been fined, has apologised.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Shapps urged people to judge him in whole and look at Johnson's record on Covid, the approach to the Ukraine war and economy.

When asked if he had not occurred to the prime minister that he was breaking the rules, Shapps told BBC Breakfast: "I don't want to say anything other than it is deeply disappointing. It should have done.

In answer to your question, he will have already been in the room with the same people that day chaired crisis meetings on the world's biggest pandemic for over 100 years.

He walks in by surprise and into the same room to the people who wish him happy birthday on this occasion. That was the thing that had breached the law, and the police have ruled on that, and he has paid the fixed penalty notice of 50 and apologised. Johnson and Sunak are believed to be the first sitting prime minister and chancellor to be criminally sanctioned. Both politicians were accused of lying to parliament by denying they had attended parties during the lock-in.

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, called on both the guilty men Johnson and Sunak to resign for dishonouring their offices. Johnson said Johnson had repeatedly lied to the public and his behaviour was a slap in the face of all those who had followed the rules.

He said they have to go.

The calls for a recall of parliament to discuss the penalties were supported by Labour and the Lib Dems, but that is likely to be blocked by the government.

The notices put Johnson's leadership in trouble, but allies like Nadine Dorries and Conor Burns rallied round him by issuing supportive messages.

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and future leadership contender, said Johnson had apologised and taken responsibility for what happened in Downing Street He and the chancellor are delivering for Britain on many fronts including the international security crisis we face. She said they have 100% backing.

Some Conservative MPs previously suggested that a line would be crossed by allowing a prime minister to remain in office if he was found to have broken the law. At one point, about 20 -- 30 MPs were thought to have submitted letters of no confidence in the prime minister, with 54 needed to trigger a leadership challenge.

Many people who had previously submitted letters of no confidence to Sir Roger Gale, Andrew Bridgen and Douglas Ross said now was not the time to change leader due to the instability caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.