Shock photos of Boris Johnson raising a glass to staff during lockdown prove he is a liar and should resign, according to angry Scottish political leaders.
The prime minister was hit with renewed demands to quit Downing Street moments after ITV published four images showing him with a drink in hand beside a table covered in wine and snacks.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “Every day that Boris Johnson remains in office is an insult to the millions of people who made sacrifices and had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic.
“If he had even a shred of dignity or integrity he would have resigned months ago.”
‘Taking us for fools’
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also called for his resignation and said: “This proves that Boris Johnson lied to Parliament and lied to the people.
“He has been taking us all for fools.”
These images will rightly make people across the country very angry.
– Douglas Ross
Scottish Greens joined the clamour for the PM to step down.
And Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole Hamilton said it’s time for Tories in Scotland to make clear their lack of confidence.
“Every day Boris Johnson remains in office will do more damage to public trust and to our democracy,” he said.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has already U-turned on his earlier demand for the UK leader to go – but admitted tonight the pictures look “unjustifiable and wrong”.
However, in a statement from the Scottish Conservative party, he stopped short of another flip-flop.
The Moray MP said: “These images will rightly make people across the country very angry.
“The Prime Minister must outline why he believes this behaviour was acceptable. To most, these pictures seem unjustifiable and wrong.”
Ruth Davidson says the PM should quit
Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson – who is now a peer at the House of Lords – was openly critical of MPs like Mr Ross who stand by the prime minister.
“The question for me is to do with my colleagues on the green benches in the House of Commons,” she told Channel 4 News on Monday night.
Ms Davidson said her party colleagues would all consider it unacceptable for a PM to break the law, lie and ignore his own rules.
“At every point they’ve chosen to do nothing and I don’t understand why,” she added.
What do the pictures show?
ITV News published the pictures on Monday afternoon, saying they were taken at a leaving party for then-director of communications Lee Cain on November 13 2020.
Eight days earlier, Mr Johnson had imposed England’s second national lockdown, which lasted four weeks. People were banned from social mixing, other than to meet one person outside.
Mr Johnson was not fined by the Metropolitan Police over the event seen in the images.
The images show Mr Johnson standing closely with seven others in one image.
Including the photographer and the Prime Minister, that makes at least nine people in the room.
While the British public were making huge sacrifices, Boris Johnson was breaking the law.
– Labour MP Angela Rayner
Six wine bottles are on the table, one is clearly half empty.
ITV described Mr Johnson as holding half a glass of fizz in the images, while a ministerial red box – which carries official papers – is perched on a chair in front of him.
Downing Street declined to defend the scene portrayed, saying the Prime Minister will comment after the Sue Gray report into partygate is published in the coming days.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs.
“The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the Prime Minister will address Parliament in full.”
Mr Johnson told MPs in December that “the rules were followed at all times” when asked during Prime Minister’s Questions about Mr Cain’s leaving party.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said that was a clear lie.
“While the British public were making huge sacrifices, Boris Johnson was breaking the law,” she said.
“Boris Johnson said repeatedly that he knew nothing about law-breaking – there’s no doubt now, he lied. Boris Johnson made the rules, and then broke them.
“The Prime Minister has demeaned his office. The British people deserve better. While Labour has a plan for tackling the cost-of-living crisis, Tory MPs are too busy defending the indefensible actions of Boris Johnson.”
What had Boris Johnson said before?
On December 8, Labour MP Catherine West asked Mr Johnson in the Commons whether there had been a party in Downing Street on November 13 2020.
The Prime Minister replied: “No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”
The Prime Minister only received one fine during the Met’s investigation, for the gathering for his 56th birthday in June 2020.
Scotland Yard did issue a fine to at least one individual who attended a gathering on the date of Mr Cain’s leaving do, but the force declined to say what the offending event was.
But it was clear the breach, or breaches, were in relation to restrictions on indoor gatherings consisting of two or more people.
The Metropolitan Police declined to explain why the Prime Minister was not fined over the leaving party.
The Commons Privileges Committee is due to investigate whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament with his denials of rule-breaking.
Intentionally misleading the House would normally be a resigning matter.