Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to say if he will resign as Prime Minister if police find he broke his own public health laws at a series of parties held at No 10 during Covid lockdowns.
The Prime Minister was grilled for more than 10 minutes on the fallout of the Partygate scandal surrounding his government during an appearance on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme.
But Mr Johnson insisted, despite no obvious legal reason, he could not comment on whether he would quit his job if issued with a fixed penalty notice by the Met Police.
The PM said there is “not a jot” he can say about allegations of parties held in No 10 during Covid lockdowns, pleading there was “nothing” he could say on the matter until the police inquiry was completed.
However, Mr Johnson said he hoped the public “won’t have long” to wait for the investigations to complete, adding: “I will be saying a lot more about it in due course.”
The Prime Minister handed a legal questionnaire to police on Friday regarding claims that lockdown-busting parties were held in Downing Street. The content of his questionnaire response has not been made public.
He said: “Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to give you full and detailed answers on all this stuff. I genuinely can’t because we’ve got a process under way – there is not a jot I can say until it is done.”
When told the public found some of his excuses for attending Downing Street gatherings “implausible”, particularly the “bring your own booze” event in May 2020, Mr Johnson said: “You’re just going to have to wait until the process is complete – there is literally not a bean I can tell you about that, as much as I would like to.”
Pressed further, he added: “I understand your curiosity, I totally accept it, but you’re just going to have to accept for the time being – and you won’t have long, I hope – but for the time being you’re going to have to contain your interest.
“I will be saying a lot more about it in due course.”
Speaking of the police investigation and criticism from his own party members, Mr Johnson said: “I am fortunate to live in a democracy. I am fortunate to be the PM of a free, independent, democratic country where people can take that sort of decision, and where I do face that sort of pressure, that’s a wonderful thing.”
Meanwhile, Europe Minister James Cleverly said the country does not need a “vacuum at the centre of Government” when asked about how the Prime Minister should react if he gets a fixed penalty notice.
Speaking to Sky on Trevor Philips on Sunday, Mr Cleverly said: “I don’t think what the country needs at the moment is a vacuum at the centre of Government when we are dealing with our recovery from Covid, the accumulation of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, making sure that the health service is able to deal with the sad, the unfortunate but nevertheless obvious, backlog that’s been created by Covid.
“That’s what the country needs. That’s what I believe the Prime Minister should be doing.”
Mr Cleverly did not directly answer a question about whether Mr Johnson should resign if issued with a fixed penalty notice.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, said the public are “sick and fed up with a Prime Minister who thinks he can get away with behaviour that none of the rest of us would have bene able to do”.
He added: “He should fess up to this. There’s a breach of trust from the Prime Minister and his right to continue to lead as Prime Minister. He should have gone by now.
“We’ll obviously wait to see what the police do. This is affectively a Prime Minister out of time and he should be out of office by now.”
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “If Johnson is found to have broken the law, he must fess up and resign.”
He added: “If he won’t resign, Conservative MPs must do the right thing and sack him. For a sitting Prime Minister to be found guilty of breaking the law would be unprecedented and put to bed once and for all the Conservative Party’s claim to be the party of law and order.”
The Metropolitan Police is investigating 12 events allegedly attended by Government figures during lockdowns, including as many as six that the Prime Minister is reported to have attended.
Officers involved with Operation Hillman, which is examining whether Covid restrictions were broken in Downing Street and across Whitehall, sent formal questionnaires to approximately 50 people as they look into the details of alleged Covid rule-breaking.