Portsmouth politicians brand prime minister Boris Johnson's partygate apology a 'slap in the face'

CITY politicians have branded Boris Johnson’s apology over partygate a ‘slap in the face’ to all those who stuck to the rules during the pandemic, after the prime minister spoke in parliament today.

Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 8:24 pm

In the House of Commons, speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle approved an application from opposition MPs, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, to debate the breaches of lockdown by Mr Johnson on Thursday (April 21).

During the session today, Mr Johnson confirmed he had received a fixed penalty notice relating to an event in Downing Street on June 19, 2020.

He said: ‘I paid the fine immediately and I offered the British people a full apology, and I take this opportunity on the first available sitting day to repeat my wholehearted apology to the house.’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Michelle Adamson

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In response, shouts of ‘resign’ could be heard in the Commons.

He added: ‘Let me also say, not by way of mitigation or excuse but purely because it explains my previous words in this house, that it did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the cabinet room just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules.

‘I repeat that was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly.’

A police investigation is still underway.

Opposition leader Sir Starmer commented: ‘What a joke. Even now, as the latest mealy-mouthed apology stumbles out of one side of his mouth, a new set of deflections and distortions pour from the other.’

In reaction Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, told The News: ‘His excuse for an apology today is a slap in the face for the people of Portsmouth who diligently followed the rules. But they know he’s a liar. And deep down, so does he.

‘The prime minister lied to parliament, and I will be voting for him to found as such on Thursday.’

And Portsmouth City Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘When I talk to families who weren’t allowed to see their loved ones when they were dying because the government rules said they couldn’t, they are really angry.

‘It says to people that there is one rule for them and one for us. If Boris doesn’t have the self awareness and good grace to go, Conservative MPs with a conscience should step up and say so.

‘If Boris can get away with this in the future other prime ministers of different parties will be able to get away with lying.’

Tory MP for Gosport, Caroline Dinenage, said she would not comment until the police investigation was over.

However, said said: ‘I'm very upset that my parliamentary debate on childhood cancer, due to take place on Thursday, may now be delayed or curtailed in order to have yet another debate about the prime minister.

‘Parliament has so many more important things to focus on right now.’

The News also contacted MPs Penny Mordaunt, Alan Mak, Suella Braverman and Flick Drummond for comment.