British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak have been fined by the Metropolitan Police in London for attending parties at No. 10 Downing St. while the rest of the country was in lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic.
“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," Downing Street said in a statement Tuesday.
Johnson's wife, Carrie Johnson, also received a penalty notice. Which gathering the fine was for has not been disclosed; however, the Johnsons and Sunak were reportedly at the prime minister's birthday celebration in June 2020.
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The fines deal a blow to Johnson's administration and reawakened calls in Parliament for both the prime minister and Sunak to resign for what has been dubbed the "partygate" scandal.
"Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign," Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer said, according to BBC. "The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better."
Other party leaders have echoed Starmer's call for resignations. Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who previously supported removing Johnson, said he shared the fury the country and Parliament felt but stressed Johnson's resignation would destabilize the country when the focus should be on aiding Ukraine.
"The public are rightly furious at what happened in Downing Street during the pandemic," Ross said, according to the BBC. "I understand why they are angry and share their fury. The behavior was unacceptable. [But removing the PM] would destabilize the U.K. government when we need to be united in the face of Russian aggression and the murdering of innocent Ukrainians."
Johnson met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the weekend in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. Johnson pledged to send more military aid to Ukraine, including 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems, according to CNN.
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The fines follow an investigation into 12 different parties on Downing Street and Whitehall that violated lockdown rules during the pandemic. The Metropolitan Police initially said it would not investigate reports that government officials broke lockdown protocol; however, when senior civil servant Sue Gray led an internal investigation on orders from Johnson, the Metropolitan Police began its own investigation.
Johnson initially denied accusations that the parties violated pandemic guidelines, which stipulated that any outdoor gatherings had to be among members of the same household or between another person who was socially distanced. However, at least one outdoor garden party at Downing Street violated these guidelines. Johnson acknowledged and apologized for attending an outdoor garden party in May 2020 with his staff, saying he believed the gathering was a work gathering that fell under the social distancing rules at the time. “I get it, and I will fix it,” Johnson said in Parliament after Gray released interim findings.
More than 50 government officials and staffers have been fined so far, with more expected.