Boris brushes off claims he's acting 'dishonourably' by not resigning after Starmer pledge

11 May 2022, 14:33 | Updated: 11 May 2022, 14:38

Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to resign
Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to resign. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Boris Johnson has brushed off suggestions he is acting "dishonourably" by not resigning following Sir Keir Starmer's pledge to step down if fined for breaching Covid rules.

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The Prime Minister has already been fined by the Metropolitan Police for attending his own birthday party in the cabinet room in Downing Street in June 2020.

He apologised but stopped short of resigning.

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Since then, police have reopened an investigation into whether Sir Keir broke regulations when he drank beer and ate curry in Labour offices in Durham in April last year.

In a dramatic statement on Monday, the Labour leader said he would do the "right thing" and resign if issued with a fixed penalty notice.

Today, Mr Johnson refused to be drawn on whether he should resign following Sir Keir's pledge.

Asked during a visit to Sweden if he was acting "dishonourably" by remaining in No 10, the PM said: "We have tried to move beyond all that.

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"I think we are trying to focus on the issues that really matter, not least Ukraine."

Speaking at party headquarters, Sir Keir said this week he did not believe he had breached rules.

But he added: "I believe in honour, integrity and the principle that those who make the rules must follow them."

"This matters. It matters because the British public deserve politicians who think the rules apply to them,” he said.

"They deserve politicians who hold themselves to the highest standards, and they deserve politicians who put the country first rather than themselves. They will always get that from me."

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While Mr Johnson has so far resisted calls to stand down, many Tories remain deeply unhappy over events in No 10 and the pressure could increase if he is fined again.

His position could also come under threat if the final report of Sue Gray, the civil servant who investigated Covid violations in Whitehall, is - as some fear - highly critical when it is published once police inquiries are complete.

The PM is in Sweden and Finland today signing security assurance agreements should the two countries come under attack.

He said in a press conference: "What we're saying today is that upon request from the other party, we would come to the other party's assistance, and it's vital to state that, ever more important to state that now, in the grim circumstances in which we find ourselves with the Russian attack on Ukraine.

"It's also an important step forward because this is an agreement on which we together intend to build whether it's in sharing intelligence or working together to combat cyberattacks."