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Boris Johnson pays fine for breaking lockdown rules but refuses to resign

Boris Johnson has tonight paid a fine to the Metropolitan Police for breaking lockdown rules in 2020 and offered a “full apology” for his actions.

The embattled Prime Minister ignored calls for his resignation from both the leaders of the SNP and Labour and claimed he now felt “an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people.”

It was revealed today that Johnson paid a fixed penalty notice in relation to a breach of coronavirus rules at a gathering in the Cabinet Room on his birthday in June 2020 – a time when strict lockdown rules remained in place over indoor gatherings.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Carrie Johnson, the PM’s wife, have also been fined for breaking rules.

A poll of 2,464 adults by YouGov has revealed 57% of responders think Boris Johnson should resign as Prime Minister after being fined for attending a lockdown-busting party, while 30% say he should stay.

The same proportion said Rishi Sunak should also resign as Chancellor for being at the same event.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “Boris Johnson must resign. He broke the law and repeatedly lied to parliament about it.”

In an interview recorded on Tuesday evening, he said: “Let me say immediately that I have paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology.

“And in the spirit of openness and humility I want to be completely clear about what happened on that day.

“My day began shortly after 7am and I chaired eight meetings in Number 10, including the Cabinet committee deciding Covid strategy.

“I visited a school in Hemel Hempstead, which took me out of Downing Street for over four hours and amongst all these engagements on a day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes.

“And 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.”

Johnson insisted that he took “full responsibility for everything” but that he “couldn’t be everywhere at once” when asked about the widespread nature of the gatherings across Whitehall.

He added: “Of course I take full responsibility for everything, but don’t forget the Downing Street is about, you know, 15,000 square feet. It’s got a lot of officials working in it – hundreds and hundreds of officials – I couldn’t be everywhere at once.

“But clearly once it became obvious what had been happening, the types of behaviour that unfortunately sadly we’d seen, we’ve taken steps to change things and Downing Street has been radically transformed.

“It’s a much… it’s a very different organisation and we’re focusing 100% on delivering our agenda.”

The Prime Minister said he “fully respects” the outcome of the Metropolitan Police investigation and that he accepts “in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better”.

Boris Johnson said: “Now I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people.”

He added that he would “do what is best for the country I serve”.

Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, tonight backed Johnson staying on.

The Dumfries MP said: “The Prime Minister has, rightly, apologised and accepted responsibility for actions which he knows have angered a great many people.

“However, he remains the right person to lead this country at such a crucial time and we need to get behind him so that he can focus on dealing with the appalling situation in Ukraine and on delivering for everyone in this country.”

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