It is one of the elementary differences that a first-year law student must learn: the difference between intent and guilt. The line that separates intentionality or involuntariness when committing a crime. And in the display of humility and contrition shown this Tuesday by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, asking the citizenry again and again for forgiveness for the Downing Street parties in full confinement, a defensive tactic was barely concealed to show repentance. and at the same time protect their backs: “I profusely apologize for my mistake,” Johnson repeated. “Error”. That was the key. Not his lie, nor his breaking the rules. It was about transmitting to citizens and deputies the idea that he never thought that his conduct was breaking the laws and restrictions of the pandemic that his own government had imposed on the entire population.
He was wrong, but he did not commit a crime. Despite the fact that the Metropolitan Police had decided last week to impose fines on Johnson, his wife Carrie Symonds, and his Minister for the Economy, Rishi Sunak, respective fines of 60 euros each. And that it was the only time in history that a prime minister had been sanctioned for his illegal conduct. “Let me tell you, without intending it to sound like an excuse, but to be able to explain my words, that it never occurred to me, neither at that time nor later, that that meeting of people in the Council of Ministers room [la fiesta sorpresa de cumpleaños del 19 de junio de 2020], just before we held a strategic meeting to respond to covid-19, it could be a breach of the law, ”the British prime minister told deputies. Johnson was already preparing the arguments for the intense debate that will take place this Thursday in Parliament. The president of him (speaker), Lindsay Hoyle, has given the green light to the motion presented by the Labor opposition so that it can be voted on whether Johnson’s conduct deserves to be submitted to the investigation and trial of the House Privileges Commission (similar to the Spanish Commission of the Statute of the Deputy), for possible contempt of Parliament.
“What a joke!”, the leader of the Labor opposition, Keir Starmer, has begun his response, in what to date has been the harshest speech against Johnson and the most effective of those delivered to date by a politician to whom his critics accuse of being faint-hearted and cold. “He knows that he is a liar and that he is unable to change. So he prefers to drag us all down with him. The more those around him degrade themselves, repeating like parrots his absurd defense arguments, the more the public thinks that all politicians are the same ”, Starmer has reproached Johnson. The president of the House has demanded that he remove the word “liar” from the Sessions Diary. Starmer, with agility, has not entered that fray, and has limited himself to saying that “the prime minister knows well what he is.”
The request for resignation by the Labor Party, the Scottish nationalists or the Liberal Democrats, but above all the decision to put to a vote whether or not the Prime Minister deliberately lied to Parliament, puts the Conservative MPs and their match. The latest survey published by YouGov makes it clear that three out of four Britons have no doubt that Johnson lied from the start on the party thing. And next May 5, when municipal elections are held throughout England, the punishment to the Government can be enormous, according to the polls.
A new conservative MP, Mark Harper, who enjoys the prestige and respect of his colleagues, has been the latest to attack Johnson: “I am sorry to say that we have a prime minister who broke the laws that he had required the rest of the country to comply with. He has not been honest about this matter, and now he is going to ask the decent men and women who sit on this bench to defend what I think is indefensible, ”Harper said from his seat to the leader of the ranks. of the. “I’m sorry to say it, but I don’t think he’s up to the job he’s in anymore.”
Until now, Johnson was convinced that his commendable performance during the Ukraine crisis, applauded by the Labor opposition, British citizens, the international community and the Ukrainian people, would allow him to turn the page on the issue of banned parties in Downing Street. The announcement of the fine, which could be followed by new sanctions, has reopened the wounds. New revelations suggest that the prime minister was the first to encourage the staff present, during the long days of confinement and work in Downing Street, to relax, and even took it upon himself to fill some glasses.
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In December 2019, when the newly appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the so-called Ministerial Code (the code of ethics for members of the Government) he promised to comply with the gold standard by which “ministers must give true and accurate information to Parliament , and correct any inadvertent errors [en sus declaraciones] as soon as possible. Ministers who deliberately lie to Parliament are expected to resign.” The House of Commons is not likely to end up giving the go-ahead to launch an investigation into Johnson’s behaviour. The conservative majority will prevail, because many deputies fear sinking the government in the midst of the crisis in Ukraine, or because they prefer to delay their decision until the electoral damage that the whole scandal of the parties. But the humble attitude, the contained answers and the serious face shown by Johnson during his long appearance before the House of Commons on Tuesday, in which he has suffered blow after blow from the opposition caucus, showed that the prime minister British was aware that he had not yet managed, far from it, to get out of the hole in which he himself had gotten himself.