Partygate: Boris Johnson still has my support after lockdown party fine, says Scarborough and Whitby MP Sir Robert Goodwill

The MP for Scarborough and Whitby has said Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak continue to enjoy his support, after the pair were fined for breaking lockdown laws at Downing Street in June 2020.

The Metropolitan Police's investigation into parties at Downing Street is ongoing. (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)
The Metropolitan Police's investigation into parties at Downing Street is ongoing. (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

The Prime Minister, his wife Carrie and the Chancellor all received a fixed penalty notice for attending a birthday party at Number 10.

Speaking to The Scarborough News, Sir Robert Goodwill said: "I think that given the current international situation, now is not the time for the distraction of a leadership election and the Prime Minister has apologised.

"I feel particularly sorry for the Chancellor because it sounds to me like he arrived early for the next meeting in the cabinet room to find them eating cake. In effect, he wasn't even on the invitation list of this event."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also been fined for partying at Downing Street. (Photo: Tolga Akmen AFP via Getty Images)

The fine makes Boris Johnson the first serving Prime Minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law.

Sir Robert has previously told The Scarborough News that those found attending or organising lockdown parties at Downing Street should face "consequences".

He said: "They've faced the consequences and have been fined in the same way a number of people in my own constituency were caught having illegal parties where pubs and clubs were having lock-ins."

During lockdown, Scarborough borough consistently ranked the highest for Covid fixed penalty notices and illegal indoor gatherings in North Yorkshire, with more than 630 handed out by the end of May 2021. North Yorkshire Police were called to a number of lockdown house parties, with one man even attempting to hide in a loft.

Boris Jonhson has received the backing of Sir Robert Goodwill. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images and Richard Ponter)

The fines follow an ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation into illegal parties held in Downing Street and across Whitehall during Covid lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

The Met is investigating 12 parties – and has so far issued more than 50 fines – after civil servant Sue Gray's initial findings which said there was a "failure of leadership and judgement" from Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.

Mr Goodwill said it was now a matter for parliament to decide whether Boris Johnson gave the best account of what was happening, and added that he suspected the Prime Minister was not involved in organising the party.

Sir Robert, who has been a staunch supporter of every prime minister under whom he has served, said: "I absolutely understand the anger of people who made sacrifices, who had elderly or dying relatives that they couldn’t visit, but just at this time the situation is such that we really cannot afford to have a leadership election.

"I think that's a general view of MPs that there are more important things to be getting on with."

He added: "The Prime Minister has been issued with a fixed penalty for arriving at Downing Street where there was a surprise party sprung on him with the people he'd been working or living with cheek-by-jowl for the last few months.

"Nobody said to me that because of that event somebody got infected and died. It’s not like he went to an old people's home or hospital without testing and spread the disease around and as a direct response people died."

In a statement on Twitter, Filey MP Kevin Hollinrake said: "[There's] no doubt mistakes were made, but I don't believe they merit a resignation of the Prime Minister or Chancellor and I would say the same if members of opposition parties were found guilty of a similar breach.

"[There's a] big difference between knowingly and inadvertently misleading the house, the latter is normally not deemed a resigning matter. Clearly difference of opinion about whether rules were broken but the Prime Minister and Chancellor have now accepted the police judgement on this and have apologised."

Ms Gray's full report will not be released until the Met has finished its investigation.