Boris Johnson is a truthful man but must explain police fine in House of Commons, says Tory leader

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said the Prime Minister is a truthful man, but stressed he must explain the circumstances around his recent police fine to the House of Commons.

Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were given fixed penalty notices on Tuesday for their part in lockdown busting parties in and around Downing Street at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fines have been paid and Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak have stressed they will continue in their jobs despite mounting pressure for them to quit.

Douglas Ross (pictured), previously one of the leading voices in the Conservative Party calling for the Prime Minister to quit, agreed, claiming the situation in Ukraine required a stable government in the UK.

On BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday, the Scottish leader was asked if he believed the Prime Minister was a truthful man.

“Yes, and he’s dealing with the situation in Ukraine and he’s dealing with the situation at home here,” Mr Ross said.

When asked if the Prime Minister’s protestations over Downing Street parties in recent months were true, Mr Ross added: “Clearly not, because the Met Police have decided that fixed penalty notices had to be issued.

“The Prime Minister has to explain why he said that and what he believed to be the case – clearly he thought something different, but the Met Police have been very clear, they’ve issued these fixed penalty notices, they have been accepted by the Prime Minister, they have been paid by the Prime Minister and I think that process is right, that the police were allowed time to investigate this, to come to a conclusion and no one is above the law and that has been proven by the issuing of these fines to the Prime Minister and others in Downing Street.”

He continued: “The Prime Minister has to explain why he said that to Keir Starmer and statements he’s made at the despatch box in the House of Commons, because it’s quite clear now – with the Met Police investigation, the issuing of the fine and the acceptance of that fine by the Prime Minister – that that statement is not correct.”

Mr Ross leaned heavily on the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a reason to keep the Prime Minister in post, following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s praise of the UK Government.

“Anything that would destabilise the UK Government at this time would be a bonus to Vladimir Putin,” he said.

“He is indiscriminately killing innocent people and I will do nothing to support a war criminal like Putin.”

Later on Wednesday, Mr Ross was joined by Baroness Ruth Davidson as they went leafleting in the west of Edinburgh for the Scottish Conservative local election campaign.

They dropped off leaflets in houses around the Davidson’s Mains area, though two households were seen rejecting the campaign material after it was posted through their letterboxes – with one man handing it back to party members.

Speaking to journalists afterwards, Mr Ross acknowledged he had a different position to Baroness Davidson on whether the Prime Minister should resign.

He said: “I have a different position from Ruth as I had the opportunity as a member of parliament to submit a letter to the 1922 Committee, which Ruth and others don’t.

“So that may change peoples’ judgement. But at the moment I think submitting that letter would undermine the UK Government’s response to what we are doing to help and support the people of Ukraine.”

He said he had discussed his position with the Tory MSP group before his statement on Tuesday.

Mr Ross also told the PA news agency there was a “clear difference” between what the Prime Minister had previously told Parliament and what he now accepted, saying he expected the issue to be raised in the House of Commons next week.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the fines speak to a culture of “entitlement” in Downing Street, adding: “If he had any self respect he would be coming to the House of Commons tomorrow with a resignation statement.”

“Not only did (the Prime Minister) break the law, but he has repeatedly lied to the public, he has repeatedly lied to the House of Commons, and that in itself is a resignation matter,” he said.

“He’s trying to argue that he didn’t know his own rules, he didn’t know his own laws, I don’t think anyone finds that acceptable.”

He added: “They really did believe that the rules, the laws, didn’t apply to them.

“That’s what people find insulting.

“That’s why the public are angry because so many people made enormous sacrifices not being with their loved ones, not being able to visit their loved ones in care homes, not being able to have family members at funerals.

“And you’ve got a Prime Minister who was effectively laughing at them.”

Mr Blackford went on to say: “If he gets away with this, that emboldens him to do as he pleases.”

Speaking at the launch of his party’s manifesto ahead of the council elections, Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the Prime Minister’s position was “untenable, and he has to resign for the good of the country”.

He also criticised Mr Ross, accusing the “lightweight” Tory leader of having “the backbone of a jellyfish”.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Fraser Bremner / Scottish Daily Mail / PA.