Twitter has tonight compared Boris Johnson’s apology to the Little Britain politician’s weasel words after the PM’s sorry speech over his Partygate fine.
Mr Johnson said sorry for attending the illegal 2020 Birthday party organised by his wife after he was handed the fixed penalty notice this afternoon by Scotland Yard.
But Mr Johnson has refused to resign over the Partygate controversy.
He said: ‘I have to say, in all frankness, at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.
‘But, of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation.
‘I understand the anger 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.
‘And I accept, in all sincerity, that people had the right to expect better.’
Online, people compared Mr Johnson’s speech to those made by Little Britain character Sir Norman Fry, played by David Walliams, who is a Conservative MP.
The character is always issuing statements to the press apologising for embarrassing situations in which he has apparently been caught.
The statements are written and delivered in an attempt to justify his misadventures, using phrases such as ‘on entering the room, my clothes accidentally fell off.’
One person wrote online: ‘Boris Johnson’s ‘apology’ is peak Sir Norman Fry (The Little Britain MP). Satire is dead. Again.’
And another quipped: ‘Whatever you do DON’T Google ‘Little Britain apologises’ ‘Nothing like what Johnson has just read out…’
Mr Johnson’s speech saw him compared to Sir Norman Fry, a politician played by David Walliams in Little Britain
Tonight a snap poll by YouGov showed that three-quarters of Britons believe Mr Johnson knowingly broke his own laws, with 57 per cent saying he should resign.
The latest mocking posts come after this afternoon’s wave of outraged tweets.
These came after No10 confirmed that the Prime Minister, his wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all to be fined for breaking Covid laws.
Mr Johnson was also compared to Beaker from The Muppets and TV scarecrow Worzel Gummidge today as social media users claimed Mr Johnson’s government is in complete meltdown.
Others suggested that the Prime Minister’s potential leadership rivals, such as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, will be hoping that the Partygate drama will unseat the so-called ‘greased piglet’.
Mr Johnson is facing calls from Opposition figures including Sir Keir Starmer and Nicola Sturgeon to resign for being fined as part of a Met Police probe into allegations of lockdown parties held at Downing Street and Whitehall during the coronavirus crisis.
It comes after Scotland Yard announced 30 additional fines on Tuesday in relation to Operation Hillman, which is looking into breaches of Covid-19 regulations at the top of Government.
The under-fire Tory leader was compared to Beaker from The Muppets as social media users claimed Boris Johnson’s government is in complete meltdown
Mr Johnson with Rishi Sunak during a visit to Fourpure Brewery in Bermondsey, 2021
A No 10spokeswoman said: ‘The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices. We have no further details, but we will update you again when we do.’
A spokesperson for Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie said: ‘In the interests of transparency, Mrs Johnson can confirm she has been notified that she will receive a fixed-penalty notice.
‘She has not yet received any further details about the nature of the FPN.’
The Labour leader thundered: ‘Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better.’
Scotland’s First Minister tweeted: ‘Boris Johnson must resign. He broke the law and repeatedly lied to parliament about it.
‘The basic values of integrity and decency – essential to the proper working of any parliamentary democracy – demand that he go. And he should take his out of touch chancellor with him.’
Bereaved families have said there is ‘simply no way’ the Prime Minister and Chancellor can continue in post.
Mr Johnson with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv at the weekend
Mr Johnson is now facing calls from Opposition figures including Sir Keir Starmer and Nicola Sturgeon to resign for being fined as part of a Met Police probe into allegations of lockdown parties held at Downing Street and Whitehall during the coronavirus crisis
Lobby Akinnola, spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak ‘broke the law’ and ‘took us all for mugs’.
He said: ‘There is simply no way either the Prime Minister or Chancellor can continue. Their dishonesty has caused untold hurt to the bereaved. Not only that, but they have lost all credibility with the wider public, which could cost lives if new variants mean restrictions are needed in the future.
‘If they had any decency they would be gone by tonight.’
Police have opted not to name those facing fines, citing traditional practices when dealing with out-of-court matters such as speeding fines, but Downing Street said it would confirm if Mr Johnson was among those being penalised.
Scotland Yard said on Tuesday that it had made at least 50 referrals for fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) – up from 20 at the end of March – to ACRO Criminal Records Office, which is responsible for issuing the fines.
Mr Johnson is understood to have been present at six of the at least 12 events being investigated.
Downing Street’s pandemic parties
May 15, 2020: THE GARDEN PARTY
A leaked photo showed Boris and Carrie Johnson with 17 senior Downing Street staff, sitting around cheese and wine. This took place during the first Covid lockdown at a time when only two people from different households could mix outdoors, socially distanced
May 20, 2020: BYOB BASH
A bombshell email from Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 staff to No10’s lavish gardens on May 20 to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’. He told guests to bring their own alcohol
November 13, 2020: LEE CAIN’S LEAVING DO
The PM allegedly made a leaving speech for his director of communications Lee Cain with a number of people gathered. The party is believed to have carried on upstairs that evening after Dominic Cummings unceremoniously walked out of Downing Street carrying a cardboard box.
November 27, 2020: CLEO WATSON’S LEAVING DO
Mr Johnson reportedly gives a speech at a packed leaving do for a ‘senior aide’. ’40 or 50 people’ were present. The aide was named as one newspaper as Cleo Watson, Dominic Cummings’ protégé.
December 15, 2020: CHRISTMAS QUIZ
Pictures obtained by the Sunday Mirror show Mr Johnson on a TV screen flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in the No10 library. A source claimed many staff were huddled by computers in their Downing Street offices, conferring on questions and drinking alcohol while the quiz was taking place. The Mirror said a message sent by No10’s head of HR on the night of the quiz advised that those who had stayed behind to take part ‘go out the back’ when they left. The paper also unearthed the team names used that night, including ‘Professor Quiz Whitty’, ‘Rebels without a Claus’, and ‘Hands, Face, First Place’.
December 17, 2020: Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, charged with probing Partygate, hosted a party after sending an email out to around 15 people in his Private Office titled ‘Christmas Quiz’.
December 18, 2020: ANOTHER CHRISTMAS PARTY Downing Street staffers allegedly hold their own festive party, with the PM not in attendance. Group size is also given as 40 to 50.
April 16, 2021: JAMES SLACK’S LEAVING DO
Advisers and civil servants drank alcohol and danced in No10’s basement and gardens to mark the departure of Boris Johnson’s press chief James Slack and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers. Witnesses claimed 30 people attended the two gatherings, which were held in different parts of the Downing Street complex before combining in the garden, on the night before Prince Philip’s funeral.
May 26, 2021: A second, formal leaving event is held for James Slack inside No 10. More than a dozen allegedly attended.
From a ‘suitcase full of booze’, a BIRTHDAY CAKE for Boris, ‘BYOB parties and one-year-old Wilfred’s broken swing: The Downing Street parties that broke the law while the rest of the country was locked down
From a suitcase ‘full of booze’ to ‘BYOB’ bashes and a raucous garden gathering that ended in baby Wilf’s swing being broken – the details of the parties held at Downing Street while the rest of the nation was in lockdown caused widespread fury.
Boris Johnson is believed to have attended at least six illegal parties investigated by the Met, meaning his fine – announced today – could have been for any one or even all of them.
These include his 56th birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 where, in the words of one Tory MP, he was ‘ambushed by a cake’.
Embattled Chancellor Rishi attended the gathering as did the PM’s wife, Carrie, who were also both fined today. The Met has still not revealed which events their fixed penalty notices were for.
Downing Street are said to have held ‘wine-time Fridays’ every week throughout the pandemic which Mr Johnson attended, with staff even investing in a £142 drinks fridge to keep their beer, prosecco and wine cold.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were today fined for attending illegal lockdown parties at Number 10, as was the PM’s wife, Carrie
Government aides were encouraged by the prime minister, who regularly oversaw the gatherings, to ‘let off steam’ at the regular drinks which would often continue until the early hours, sources told The Mirror.
Staff took turns to stock up on drinks at the local Tesco Metro with a wheely suitcase to fill up the 34-bottle fridge which was delivered through the back door of Downing Street on December 11, 2020, extraordinary pictures revealed.
At the time, households were not allowed to mix indoors or in most outdoor places with exemptions for people in support bubbles, and a maximum of six people were allowed to meet in some outdoor public spaces like parks and public gardens.
Today’s fines are particularly embarrassing given the Prime Minister, speaking in the Commons in December after allegations about parties in Downing Street first emerged, said ‘all guidance was followed completely in No 10’.
Below are details of all the gatherings that were investigated by police.
BYOB garden party – May 20, 2020:
A leaked email from the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, showed No 10 staff were invited to ‘bring your own booze’ to an event in the Downing Street garden.
Mr Johnson admitted he was there for 25 minutes but said he thought it was a ‘work event’ to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.
Mr Johnson with a cake during a visit to a primary school on the day of his 56th birthday. A lockdown-breaking bash was held later that day
Cabinet Office gathering – June 18, 2020
Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s interim report said a gathering in the 70 Whitehall building was held to mark the departure of a No 10 private secretary.
The event had not previously been disclosed but The Telegraph said the official in question is former home affairs policy adviser Hannah Young, who left Downing Street to take up the role of deputy consul general in New York.
The newspaper said it understood about 20 people attended, with alcohol consumed.
56th birthday party for the PM – June 19, 2020
Downing Street has admitted staff ‘gathered briefly’ in the Cabinet Room in what was reportedly a surprise get-together for Mr Johnson organised by his now wife Carrie.
Lulu Lytle, the interior designer behind lavish renovations of the Downing Street flat, briefly attended while undertaking work there.
It was after this gathering that Tory MP Conor Burns claimed Mr Johnson had been ‘ambushed by a cake’.
No 10 denied a report that, later the same evening, family and friends were hosted upstairs to celebrate the occasion.
‘Dom’s Gone’ bash: November 13, 2020
Mrs Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and her husband live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s wife called the claim ‘total nonsense’.
But reports have since suggested that the Prime Minister was seen heading up to the flat on the night in question, with the Mail On Sunday stating that Abba songs, including The Winner Takes It All, were heard coming from the residence.
Mrs Johnson reportedly hosted parties in the official flat over No 11 where she and her husband live, including one event on November 13, the night of Dominic Cummings’ acrimonious departure
Mr Cummings, former de facto chief-of-staff at No 10, has alleged there are photographs of parties held at the flat during lockdown and said he has spoken to people who heard music coming from the Johnsons’ accommodation on the night he left Downing Street.
According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.
Lee Cain leaving do: November 13, 2020
Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.
Other bashes that police didn’t investigate
‘Cheese and wine’ garden party: May 15, 2020
The Prime Minister and his wife – apparently holding their newborn baby, Wilf – were seen sitting at a table with two people while another 13 were pictured with bottles of alcohol nearby at a table and on the lawn on Friday May 15, 2020.
The ‘cheese and wine’ party in No10’s garden on May 15, 2020
Second staff leaving do: November 27, 2020
The Mirror reported that the PM gave a farewell speech to an aide at the end of November while the lockdown in England was still in place.
Other reports have said the leaving do was for Cleo Watson, a senior Downing Street aide and ally of Mr Cummings.
Department for Education party: December 10, 2020
The DfE confirmed a social event happened after The Mirror reported that former education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and delivered a short speech at an event organised at his department’s Whitehall headquarters.
A spokesman acknowledged that ‘it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time’.
Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’: December 17, 2020
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case removed himself from the inquiry into Whitehall parties – to be replaced by Ms Gray – after reports emerged of a gathering in the Cabinet Office.
It was reported that the do had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was noted in digital calendars as ‘Christmas party!’ and included an online quiz.
The Cabinet Office said Mr Case played no part in the event ‘but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own’.
Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head: December 17, 2020
The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce said she was ‘truly sorry’ over an evening gathering in the Cabinet Office for her leaving drinks during coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas in 2020.
Kate Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she gathered with colleagues who were in the office that day and added that she was cooperating with the Ms Gray’s probe.
Number 10 leaving do: December 17, 2020:
The Sue Gray update said the police are also probing a gathering in Downing Street held to mark the departure of a Number 10 official on December 17.
The Telegraph reported that the staff member in question was Captain Steve Higham, then one of Mr Johnson’s private secretaries, who advised on defence and national security issues.
The Mirror, which first reported the event before the police investigation began, said Mr Johnson was only there ‘for a few minutes’.
Capt Higham became Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in July 2021.
‘Wine and cheese’ Christmas party at Downing Street: December 18, 2020
The claim that kicked off the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was held for Downing Street staff on December 18.
Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the PM is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, quit after being filmed joking about it with fellow aides at a mock press conference – although it is not clear whether she attended.
Number 10 leaving do for two staff members: January 14, 2021
A gathering was held in No 10 to mark the departure of two private secretaries.
Reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the leaving event, which was for a senior civil servant in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, according to The Telegraph.
The other official’s identity is so far unknown.
Drinks and dancing the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral: April 16, 2021
The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on the Friday night.
They were to mark the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.
Carrie Johnson (left) was also fined today. Mr Johnson is seen on the right drinking water at a reception for teachers in June 2021 which did not break any lockdown rules
Mr Slack, who left his Number 10 role to become deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper, said he was sorry for the ‘anger and hurt’ caused by his leaving do, while Downing Street apologised to the Queen.
The Telegraph quoted a Number 10 spokesman as saying Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day and is said to have been at Chequers.
The newspaper reported accounts from witnesses who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, adding that it had been told that around 30 people attended both events combined.
Online Christmas quiz in No 10: December 15, 2020
Police initially said they did not intend to investigate the quiz, during which the Prime Minister appeared on contestants’ screens.
However they later said they would review the decision after a photograph emerged of Mr Johnson alongside an open bottle of sparkling wine.