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What happens if Boris Johnson is fined over partygate? How a fixed penalty notice would affect the PM



If the Prime Minister receives a fixed penalty notice over Downing Street parties he would be required to pay a fine of £100 or £200.

But even though the partygate scandal has been eclipsed by the war in Ukraine, it is likely that Boris Johnson’s political penalty would be far greater.

Like a speeding ticket, a fixed penalty notice is hardly the same as being put on trial for murder – it will not even earn the PM a criminal record.

Yet it will show that he broke the very laws, designed to keep the country safe from coronavirus, that he himself drew up.

While the political pressure on Mr Johnson over partygate has subsided in the last five weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, and a number of Tory MPs who had submitted letters of no confidence have since withdrawn them, it would remind Conservatives – and voters in May’s local elections – that he did not play by the rules that the rest of the country had to follow.

Despite the announcement of 20 fines being issued in relation to the scandal by the Metropolitan Police on Tuesday, No 10 has continued to claim that no laws have been broken.

This is patently not true. What matters for Mr Johnson’s ability to stay in office is if it can be proved that he knowingly broke the law by attending one or more of those parties – rather than, as he has repeatedly claimed since the scandal broke in December, that he was not aware the rules were being broken.

It is an absurd position for Mr Johnson to claim, of course, given he helped write those rules. But technically he could insist that he was told the “gatherings” were within the rules.

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Likewise, the PM could claim he did not mislead parliament when he said, at PMQs on 1 December, that “all guidance was followed completely in No10”, because he was responding to questions about one specific Christmas party in December 2020, rather than other events.

He has also insisted that he believed the May 2020 party in the garden of Downing Street was a work event.

All of this may be too much of a stretch for sceptical Tory MPs and voters in May’s elections. If Mr Johnson is fined over partygate, his premiership is still in danger.

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