Partygate: the internet responds to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s lockdown-breaking fines

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Lauren Geall
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Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak

Politicians and justice groups are sharing their responses to the news that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been handed a fixed penalty notice by the Metropolitan police following the force’s “partygate” investigation.

Boris Johnson, Carrie Johnson and Rishi Sunak have all received fines from the police for breaking lockdown rules at a birthday gathering for the prime minister in May 2020.

The gathering – which took place at 10 Downing Street – was one of the 12 alleged events under investigation by the Metropolitan police as part of the “partygate” affair.

While all three have now publicly apologised, Johnson and Sunak have so far rejected calls to resign – with Johnson saying he now feels “an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people” and Sunak saying he was “focused on delivering for the British people”.

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However, these apologies have done nothing to dampen the rising anger towards both Johnson and Sunak, with many people taking to Twitter to condemn the pair’s actions.

Among the people speaking out about the fines were politicians from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and SNP, including the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer.

Taking to Twitter, Starmer wrote: “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign. The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better.” 

Labour MP Angela Rayner also took to Twitter to share her thoughts, writing: “The prime minister’s defence has been blown out of the water. He told the country all the rules were followed in Downing Street – but that was a lie. Widespread criminality took place at the heart of his government. Britain deserves better.”

Non-politicians also shared their thoughts on the matter, including the Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group, who released a letter addressed to the prime minister.

“The rules your government created were there to protect the health of people up and down our country,” the letter read.  

“We couldn’t comfort each other at our loved one’s funerals. We couldn’t hold our loved one’s hands while they passed away. We couldn’t visit our loved ones when they needed us most.

“Every single day this is something we have to live with, all because we obeyed the rules that were there to stop others from experiencing our pain. You on the other hand did not.”

The letter continues: “You broke those laws intended to keep us safe. You trampled on the sacrifices we and all the British public made. You have paid a fine. Our loved ones paid with their lives.”

A thread from an NHS worker documenting their experiences in the first wave of the pandemic has also gone viral, with many holding it up as an example of the sacrifices that health workers made to keep others safe.  

“It was unrelenting,” the thread reads. “I went home. I wanted the company of friends. The blissful ignorance of stupid drinks in a pub. But we couldn’t. So, we didn’t. I slept and came back to run the loop again. It was what we were asked to do.

“It was fucking horrible. But we did it. In the knowledge we were all in it together. No cake. No parties. No mutual soothing. No party hats and quizzes and cheese and wine. Just head down, keep moving, for the greater good. What a betrayal.” 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.