PRIME Minister Boris Johnson spent less than five minutes apologising over ‘Partygate’ to the House of Commons yesterday, before putting it to one side.
He then proceeded to claim that his breaking of the Covid laws, that millions of other UK citizens followed, was an irrelevance compared with his role in leading international support for Ukraine and war on Russia.
Johnson began: ‘I will come to Ukraine in a moment since I have just left President Macron and Chancellor Shultz and eight other world leaders.
‘But let me begin in all humility (roars of laughter) by saying that on 12th April I received a fixed penalty notice relating to an event in Downing Street on 19th June 2020. I paid the fine immediately (more laughter) and I offered the British people a full apology and I take this opportunity on the first available sitting day to repeat my wholehearted apology to the House.
‘As soon as I received the notice I acknowledged the hurt and the anger, and I said that people had a right to expect better from their Prime Minister and I repeat that now.
‘Let me also say, not by way of mitigation or excuse, but purely because it explains my previous words in this House, that it did not occur to me then, or subsequently, that a gathering in the Cabinet Room just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules. I repeat, that was my mistake and I apologise unreservedly.’
He then went on: ‘It is precisely because I know that so many people are angry and disappointed that I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people, and to respond in the best traditions of our country to Putin’s barbaric onslaught against Ukraine.
‘Our Ukrainian friends are fighting for the life of their nation, and they achieved the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century by repelling the Russian assault on Kiev, and the whole House will share my admiration for their heroism and courage.
‘Putin arrogantly assumed that he would capture Kiev in a matter of days, and now the blackened carcasses of his tanks and heavy armour litter the approaches to the capital on both banks of the Dnieper and are smouldering monuments to his failure.
‘Having pulverised the invader’s armoured spearheads the Ukrainians then counter-attacked and by 6th April Putin had been compelled to withdraw his forces from the entire Kiev region.
‘Britain and our allies supplied some of the weaponry, but it was Ukrainian valour and sacrifice which saved their capital.’
He concluded: ‘We will build a new reactor not every decade but every year. This government is joining with our allies in facing down Putin’s aggression abroad while addressing the toughest problems at home, helping millions of families with the cost of living.
‘My job is to work every day to make the British people safer, more secure and more prosperous and that is what I will continue to do and I commend this statement to the House.’
Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer responded: ‘After months of insulting excuses, today’s half-hearted apology will never be enough.
‘If the Prime Minister had any respect for the millions who sacrificed everything to follow the rules, he would resign.
‘But he won’t because he doesn’t respect the sacrifice of the British public, he is a man without shame.’
Starmer went on to appeal to Tory MPs to remove him, saying: ‘There are many decent honourable members on the benches opposite who know the damage the Prime Minister is doing. They know it is their responsibility to bring an end to this shameful chapter.
‘Today I urge them once again, don’t follow in the slipstream of an out of touch, out of control Prime Minister. Put their conscience first, put their country first and remove the Prime Minister from office. Bring decency, honesty and integrity back to our politics and stop the denigration of everything that this country stands for.’
Johnson’s response to Starmer was to condemn him for not mentioning Ukraine.