‘It’s time to move on and get back to Brexit’ — Britons ready to forgive PM for partygate

Boris Johnson receives legal questionnaire from partygate police

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Express.co.uk asked its readers: “Does it matter to you if Boris Johnson is found guilty by Met Police over partygate?” The poll, which ran from midday on Saturday, February 12 to midday on Sunday, February 13, attracted a whopping total of 17,362 votes, with more than 1,700 comments added to a robust debate below the article.

The vast majority of votes — 13,293 (77percent) — were cast for “no”, with people clearly feeling the results of the Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged lockdown parties at Downing Street aren’t a concern for them.

On the other side of the debate, a total of 4069 (23 percent) said “yes”, the outcome does matter to them.

On the whole, readers who commented largely appear to feel that it’s time to move on from the scandal and focus on the future.

One reader with the username use common sense wrote: “Let’s move on…there are far more important issues to worry about.”

And username aquamarine said: “Yes, he lied about things but it’s been blown out of all proportion and now it’s nothing more than bullying the guy.”

Plenty, however, still said they thought Mr Johnson and anyone else found to have broken the rules should receive a fixed penalty notice from the police.

Username joeheath said: “[I’m] sick of it. Every single party-goer should be charged, plead guilty, pay a fine and let’s move on.”

And username David1Gibbins wrote: “After the horrendous time he’s had with the EU and Brexit and then the Covid situation let him carry on…

“Let the police fine him for what he did, end of story. Then let’s all back him to get Brexit finished ASAP.”

Others, however, were less sympathetic.

Username Englishman2 wrote: “I’m Conservative. Pro Brexit. And I want him to go. So do most of my friends.”

And Username Black&White pudding wrote: “He has to remain, at present but needs to do better. What is the alternative — Labour?”

Along with the Prime Minister, more than 50 people were sent a questionnaire — the equivalent to being interviewed under caution — by the Met last week.

The force has said all questions “must be answered truthfully” within seven days, and Number 10 said the Prime Minister would “respond as required”.

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The documents are said to ask for an “account and explanation of the recipient’s participation” in the 12 events being investigated.

The Met added that receipt of the questionnaire did not necessarily mean a fine would be issued or guilt would be found.

Some reports have claimed fines could reach as high as £10,000 if police rule that multiple events in Downing Street breached Covid laws.

Lawyer Adam Wagner, an expert on Covid-19 rules, said the sending out of questionnaires is “very significant because it appears that the police at least think that they’re getting towards the point where they can start issuing fixed penalty notices”.

The human rights barrister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It sounds to me, although I haven’t seen the letters, that they’ve decided that relevant gatherings were potentially a breach of the regulations and now they’re asking people ‘Did you have some sort of reasonable excuse?’, which, in law, would effectively be a defence for being there.”

He said the most likely form of penalty to be issued by police is fixed penalty notices, with Mr Johnson alleged to have been at up to six of the 12 events in question.

Mr Wagner said: “So, if he was given a fixed penalty notice for each and every one of those, I think that he would be given those sort of cumulative amounts until eventually, the final one would be £6,400.

“So overall, and assuming there isn’t a big £10,000 one for hosting a gathering in the flat of over 30 people, he could still be in line for over £10,000 worth of fixed penalty notices if they accumulate.”

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