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UK's Johnson to apologise to parliament over lockdown fine

By :International Desk
Published : Apr 19, 2022 03:00:00 PM | World

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will apologise to parliament on Tuesday as he faces lawmakers for the first time since he was fined by police for breaking his own COVID-19 lockdown rules, a government official said, reports Reuters.

Johnson, who will address parliament at around 1430 GMT, was fined last week by the police for attending a birthday party thrown in his honour in June 2020 when people from different households were not allowed to meet indoors.

Opposition parties have called for Johnson to resign, accusing him of misleading parliament after he told lawmakers last year that all rules were followed in Downing Street - the prime minister's official residence and workplace - during the pandemic.

"When he spoke to parliament he was speaking what he believed to be the truth," Britain's Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis told Sky News.

"He did not believe at that point that anything he had done was against the rules but he absolutely accepts the police have looked at this, they have taken a different view."

Following the fine last week Johnson said it hadn't occurred to him he was in breach of the rules but he now "humbly" accepted he was.

A poll by J L Partners for The Times newspaper, which asked almost 2,000 people to give their view of the prime minister in a few words, found comments from 72% of respondents were negative, compared to 16% that were positive. The most common word used was "liar", it reported.

Opposition parties are in talks about how best to seek to censure Johnson, either by pushing for a vote on whether he is in contempt of parliament, or to refer him to a parliamentary committee to investigate whether he deliberately misled lawmakers.

"It is simply incredible for the Prime Minister to say that he just didn't know," senior opposition Labour Party lawmaker Emily Thornberry told Sky News. "He should tell us that he has lied, that he misled parliament and he should resign."

Pressure from Johnson's own Conservative lawmakers for him to resign has abated with the war in Ukraine in which he has sought to play a leading role in the West's response.

While a handful of have repeated calls for him to go, most say now is not the time.

Conservative lawmaker Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the party's "1922 Committee" which represents lawmakers who have no government jobs, said he would reserve judgement until the police investigation had concluded and the British public had had their say in local elections in early May.

"At the moment my judgement would be, it is certainly not in the country's interests to think about replacing the prime minister," he told BBC Radio.