Boris Johnson: The most incendiary reactions to the new Partygate allegations
What's happening? Boris Johnson is once again facing accusations of breaking the rules during the pandemic.
In an echo of last year’s Partygate storm, the former PM has been referred to the police by the Cabinet Office over alleged events at both Chequers and in Downing Street.
A spokesman for Johnson has said the events were lawful and denied wrongdoing.
It will come as no surprise to see that the latest round of accusations against Johnson have sparked fury from his political opponents and support from his backers.
But, as ever with Johnson, opinions about him are strong, forceful and deeply-held from both his friends and foes. Yahoo News rounds up some of those opinions.
‘He is totally unfit for any form of public service’
Lindsay Jackson, a spokeswoman for the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, did not mince her words. She branded Johnson “totally unfit for any form of public service” and suggested he “quietly step back from public life”.
Jackson said: “These revelations make a grim mockery of Boris Johnson’s claims that he didn’t break his own lockdown rules. He lied when he said to our faces that he’d done ‘all he could’ to protect our loved ones, he lied again when he said the rules hadn’t been broken in No 10, and he’s lied over and over again since then when he’s denied it.
“If he had any respect he’d quietly step back from public life.”
Revelations ‘make a grim mockery’ of Boris Johnson‘s defence claims (Twitter, 1 min)
‘Bizarre and unacceptable’
Johnson himself is adamant he broke no rules, going so far as accusing the Cabinet Office of making “bizarre and unacceptable” claims about him.
In an incendiary statement, Johnson said the government was “entirely wrong” and that the allegations were “political”.
The statement from his office read: “No contact was made with Mr Johnson before these incorrect allegations were made both to the police and to the privileges committee. This is both bizarre and unacceptable.
“For whatever political purpose, it is plain that a last-ditch attempt is being made to lengthen the privileges committee investigation as it was coming to a conclusion and to undermine Mr Johnson.”
Johnson’s sister, Rachel Johnson, has also stuck up for her brother, saying that “all rules were followed” at Chequers.
Rachel Johnson insists 'all rules were followed when I went to Chequers' (The Telegraph, 3 min)
New claims a ‘witch-hunt’
Unsurprisingly, allies of the former prime minister have wasted no time in lashing out at the fresh investigation, describing it as a “witch-hunt”.
In fact, they have gone a step further than simply speaking out against it – and are now threatening to withdraw support for the Rishi Sunak and the government, according to the Guardian.
An ally of Johnson told the paper: “Boris has been supporting the government, but this act is final straw.
“There are a growing number of MPs who want the party leadership to act to stop these witch-hunts and a group of MPs will meet today to consider options.“
The ally said that Tory members across the country are “getting organised” – suggesting they will turn their ire directly at Sunak and his position as party leader.
Boris Johnson allies issue warning to Sunak over Partygate ‘witch-hunts’ (The Guardian, 2 min)
‘No smoke without fire’
Some are convinced that the allegations are still being made because Johnson has more to answer for.
Will Walden, who was Johnson’s director of communications when he was mayor of London, told Sky News that there was “no smoke without fire” – but the claims would do nothing to change anyone’s mind about Johnson.
He said: "The problem is that it's too early to say what has happened here, we simply don't have enough detail. I doubt as the story stands this morning it has changed anyone's mind.
"If you disliked Boris, this will be more evidence that you were right to. If you were a fan, it's more evidence that the... establishment is out to get him."
'No smoke without fire' says Boris Johnson's former press chief (Sky News, 4 min)
'Taxpayers are paying Johnson’s legal bills'
Labour has highlighted how taxpayers are paying an estimated £222,000 in legal fees to help Johnson defend himself.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “The public will be shocked that they’re still paying Boris Johnson’s legal bills while he rakes in millions from speaking gigs, all because Rishi Sunak is too weak to put a stop to it.”
Watch: Boris Johnson reported to police over new ‘potential lockdown breaches’
Johnson may avoid being fined
While taxpayers are still paying Johnson’s bills, there is a very real chance that he may avoid a fine on a technicality.
Barrister Adam Wagner highlighted how the timing of the alleged offence could mean that the investigation is on a road to nowhere.
He tweeted: “There is a long stop of three years since the offence – so if Johnson is accused of offences going back to June 2020 I doubt the police would be able to do anything about it, including an FPN.“
Boris Johnson may avoid FPN over alleged lockdown offences (Twitter, 1 min)