PARTYGATE ROCKS BRITISH POLITICS

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have apologised after London’s Metropolitan Police announced they will fine the duo for attending rule-breaking gatherings during the Covid-19 lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have apologised after London’s Metropolitan Police announced they will fine the duo for attending rule-breaking gatherings during the Covid-19 lockdown, in an episode which has been dubbed as the ‘partygate’.

Johnson, who initially denied he was in breach of any law, now acknowledged that he indeed was, but refused to step down. “It didn’t occur to me that, as I say, that I was in breach of the rules. I now humbly accept that I was. I think the best thing I can do now is, having settled the fine, is focus on the job, and that’s what I am going to do,” the premier said.

Police have been investigating as many as 12 parties at Johnson’s Downing Street office and the Cabinet Office, including a gathering on the occasion of his 56th birthday on June 19, 2020.

Sunak, meanwhile, issued an ‘unreserved apology’ for attending the same birthday party. “I deeply regret the frustration and anger that I caused, and I’m sorry. I understand the anger that many will feel that I, myself, fell short when it came to observing the very rules which the government I lead had introduced to protect the public,” said the 41-year-old leader in a televised interview.

The fines against Johnson and Sunak are among the three announced by the Metropolitan Police on Tuesday, all in connection with the 57-year-old Johnson’s birthday celebration event. In all, the police said, more than 50 fines will be issued.

This is believed to be the first time when a sitting British Prime Minister has been found to be in violation of a law.

In recent days, Johnson has been an active participant in global efforts to end the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine; last week, he made a surprise visit to Kyiv, the war-torn nation’s capital, to meet Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President.

Sunak, meanwhile, has been fighting allegations that his wife, Akshata, the daughter of Indian billionaire Narayana Murthy, has a ‘non-domicile status’ for the UK’s tax purposes. An individual who has such a status does not have to pay tax to the UK government for their income from outside Britain.

ALSO READ: Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak fined for breaking Covid rules

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