Sat, 18 May 2024

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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Justice Minister Resigns Over Boris Johnson’s “Conduct” Following Partygate Fines


3 min read

Justice minister Lord Wolfson has resigned from government, claiming that Boris Johnson’s "conduct" during his response to the "partygate" saga left him with "no option other than to tender my resignation".

In a letter to Boris Johnson, the Conservative peer said the “scale, context and nature” of gatherings held in Downing Street in lockdown mean it would be “inconsistent with the rule of law” for the Prime Minister and his staff to go unpunished.

He added that “many in society complied with the rules at great personal cost”, and that some had been “fined or prosecuted for similar, and sometimes apparently more trivial offences”.

“It is not just a question of what happened in Downing Street, or your own conduct. It is also, and perhaps more so, the official response to what took place. As we obviously do not share that view of these matters, I must ask you to accept my resignation,” Lord Wolfson wrote. 

The justice minister said it had been an “immense privilege” to work in the government, and that he was “very sorry that the sky has prematurely fallen in on my current ministerial career”.

Johnson said he was "sorry to receive" Lord Wolfson's resignation letter, and said was "grateful for everything" the peer had done during his time in government.

"We have greatly benefitted from your years of legal experience, and you can be proud of the contributions you have made to the government," the letter read.

Lord Wolfson is the first government minister to openly criticise the PM following the latest announcement by the Met Police that he would be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notices alongside his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak

In a televised statement on Tuesday, Johnson said he had already paid the fine and planned to "get on" with his job.

"There was a brief gathering in the cabinet room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes during which people I worked with kindly passed on their good wishes. 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," he said.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for the Prime Minister and Chancellor to resign over the fines.

“They’ve dishonoured all of that sacrifice, they’ve dishonoured their office," he said on Tuesday.
“This is the first time in the history of our country that a Prime Minister has been found to be in breach of the law, and then he lied repeatedly to the public about it. Britain deserves better, they have to go.”

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