UK’s Johnson Rejects Calls to Resign amid ‘Partygate’ Fine

A protester holds up a placard of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Downing Street in London, Britain, 13 April 2022. (EPA)
A protester holds up a placard of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Downing Street in London, Britain, 13 April 2022. (EPA)
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UK’s Johnson Rejects Calls to Resign amid ‘Partygate’ Fine

A protester holds up a placard of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Downing Street in London, Britain, 13 April 2022. (EPA)
A protester holds up a placard of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Downing Street in London, Britain, 13 April 2022. (EPA)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to resign after being fined for breaking his government's pandemic lockdown rules, saying he would instead redouble efforts to strengthen the economy and combat Russian aggression in Ukraine.

London police fined Johnson and other people Tuesday for attending a birthday party thrown for the prime minister at his Downing Street offices on June 19, 2020. The penalty made Johnson the first British prime minister ever found to have broken the law while in office.

Gatherings of more than two people were banned in Britain at the time of the birthday party to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"I understand the anger that many will feel that I, myself, fell short when it came to observing the very rules which the government I lead had introduced to protect the public, and I accept in all sincerity that people had the right to expect better,” Johnson said late Tuesday. "And now I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people.”

The fine followed a police investigation and months of questions about lockdown-breaking parties at government offices, which Johnson had tried to bat away by saying there were no parties and that he believed no rules were broken.

Opposition lawmakers demanded Johnson’s resignation, arguing the fines given to him and Treasury chief Rishi Sunak were evidence of "criminality” at the heart of government. The opposition argued that the Downing Street gathering demonstrated that Johnson and his supporters believe the rules don’t apply to them.

While the "partygate” scandal poses a threat to Johnson’s government, the world has changed tremendously since the first reports of the parties surfaced late last year.

Johnson has been a leading figure in marshaling international opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Britain is facing its worst cost-of-living crisis since the 1950s.

His supporters are already arguing that whatever the prime minister may have done wrong, now is not time for a leadership contest.

That his Treasury chief also received an undermining fine helps Johnson since Sunak had been seen as the leading candidate to succeed Johnson.

But Johnson still faces the possibility of additional fines; he is reported to have attended three other gatherings that the Metropolitan Police Service is still investigating.

He will also have to answer questions about whether he knowingly misled Parliament with his previous statements about the parties, Jill Rutter, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government in London, said.

"Governments have to realize that they can’t just make laws and then skirt around them and rationalize themselves that it’s all OK because they’re very important people working at the center of government,” Rutter said.



Netanyahu Receives Warning from Panel Probing Submarine Purchase 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
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Netanyahu Receives Warning from Panel Probing Submarine Purchase 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)

An Israeli commission investigating suspected wrongdoing in government purchases of submarines and missile boats from Germany issued a warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

The panel notified Netanyahu that based on evidence gathered thus far, it could ultimately determine that he had used his position as prime minister between 2009 and 2016 to greenlight the purchases without due process.

"By doing so, he (Netanyahu) endangered the security of the state and harmed the state of Israel's foreign relations and economic interests," said the panel in its written decision, made public on Monday.

Netanyahu in response said that the submarines were central to Israel's security "in ensuring its existence against Iran, which is trying to destroy us".

"History will prove that Prime Minister Netanyahu was right on this issue as well and made the right decisions for the security of Israel," the statement from his office said.

The commission, established under the previous government in 2022, said that it will soon publish unclassified parts of the evidence collected during the probe into the deal, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Netanyahu has struggled to salvage his security credentials since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas-led fighters, who killed 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages to Gaza according to Israeli tallies, the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

In the Israeli assault on Gaza that followed, more than 37,000 people have been killed according to Gaza health authorities.