Boris told he is 'toast' as he dodges Partygate questions

30 March 2022, 15:58 | Updated: 30 March 2022, 16:22

Boris Johnson suggested he did not recognise the number of 20 fines issued by Scotland Yard yesterday
Boris Johnson suggested he did not recognise the number of 20 fines issued by Scotland Yard yesterday. Picture: Alamy/Parliament TV

By Daisy Stephens

Boris Johnson has been told he is "toast" as he dodged partygate questions at the Liaison Committee on Wednesday.

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SNP MP Pete Wishart said the Prime Minister was "pretty much toast" if he was found to have broken the law.

He refused to acknowledge that number of fines had even been handed out, saying: "Well, you say 20 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued yesterday, I'm not certain of that but you may know something that I don't."

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The Prime Minister also refused to say whether or not he was one of the people fined by the Met yesterday, brushing the question from SNP MP Pete Wishart aside.

"Well, Pete, I think I'm sure you'd know if I were," he said.

"Look, let me just say generally on this whole issue, I have, I think, been several times to the House to talk about this and to explain and to apologise and to set out the things that we were doing to change the way things are run in No10 and we've done that, but what I also said repeatedly... I've said repeatedly that I won't give a running commentary on an investigation that is underway."

In response, Mr Wishart: "We're not expecting you to give a running commentary obviously, but if you are served with one of them, you're pretty much toast, aren't you?"

Mr Johnson said: "I just want to return to what I've said and that is that that would come under the category of a running commentary in my view."

Mr Wishart then asked if the Prime Minister could accept criminality had been committed now that fines had actually been handed out.

Mr Johnson said he had "been frank with the house about what we've got wrong" and again said he "won't give a running commentary on an ongoing investigation".

PM denies knowing about 20 fixed penalty notices by Met

He told the Committee: "There will come a point when I will be able to talk about the investigation and the conclusions of the investigation, and that is when the investigation has concluded."

When asked if he'd resign if he was found to have breached the ministerial code - which Mr Wishart said was "crystal clear" that he had - he said: "I think you're just going to have to hold your horses and wait until the conclusion of the investigation when there will be a lot more clarity."

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Whilst the questioning opened with partygate, the main purpose of it was to question Mr Johnson about Ukraine.

When asked whether French President Emmanuel Macron had been speaking to Putin for "too long", Mr Johnson said western countries should be engaging in negotiations with the Russian leader but only if that is what Ukraine wants.

"I think the most important thing and here I think Emmanuel and I would be in total agreement, the most important thing is that whatever happens should be what the Ukrainians want, and it's for them to decide what their future should be," he said.

"That is what is at stake here. It's not for any of us, you know, whatever we may think to try to create a future for them, it's for them to decide their future."

PM refuses to reveal if he was fined by Met's investigation

On the issue of refugees, Mr Johnson said he wanted a "light touch" visa process for Ukrainian refugees, but one that also allowed for security checks to be carried out.

Questioned by Dame Diana Johnson why the UK Government did not bring in a streamlined emergency humanitarian visa for those applying, the Prime Minister said: "I think we're not that far apart then, because what I wanted was a system that was as light touch as possible and would enable people to come here, but would enable us also to do checks.

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"We are outside the Schengen system, we have the advantage of being able to clarify people's status, (that) they're bona fide - that's not a bad thing if you want to have a programme that really works and commands confidence."

Defending the rate of progress in resettling refugees, the Prime Minister added: "These numbers are climbing.

"There is no cap on the family reunion scheme, that's already at the thick end of 25,000. That's a pretty big town."

Mr Johnson said he did not yet know how many of the 2,700 people who have been given visas for the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme had arrived in the UK.

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