BBC Breakfast present Dan Walker was incredulous when a UK Government minister drew parallels between Boris Johnson’s Covid law-breaking and a speeding fine. Ever since the Prime Minister and Chancellor were fined for breaking the laws they made over Covid many leading Conservative politicians have closed ranks to play down the law-breaking at peak of the Covid lockdowns.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on April 19 Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland secretary and MP for Great Yarmouth, put himself squarely behind the PM. Dan Walker, who has recently announced he will leave the BBC to become the host of Channel 5 News, asked Mr Lewis: “There could be sanctions coming Boris Johnson’s way and now he’s the only Prime Minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law… this is the strangest of situations where the Prime Minister actually broke the laws that he put in place.”
Mr Lewis replied: “Well look, we’ve seen over the years actually ministers of both parties have had fixed penalty notices whether it’s been for various different things, including speeding, which I appreciate it’s not the same as the Covid regulations, but it is fixed penalty notices.
“What the Prime Minister has done is accepted that, he’s acknowledged that, he’s apologised for that. We’ve seen the other party leaders over the last few days been told that they’ve broken rules and regulations around Covid. What our Prime Minister has done is outline that he recognised that things that Number 10 were not being done in a way that the public would expect it to be done.
“He’s changed the team. He’s done what he said he would do on that. He’s accepted the fixed penalty notice last week, he’s paid that fine, and apologised for that.”
A seemingly incredulous Walker replied: “Do you think that if the Prime Minister today comes before Parliament and talks as you have have, mentioning fines with regards to what he has been sanctioned for, how do you think that will sit with people who couldn’t attend family funerals?”
Mr Lewis then retorted: “Well as I say… people made huge sacrifices through the Covid pandemic. That’s why the Prime Minister absolutely recognises the anger that people had around what they perceived and saw happening in Number 10 in that period… He will be making a statement to parliamentarians which will obviously be covered later today and I would expect you will see him continuing to make the point the absolutely accepted decision the police have come to.”
Several Tory MPs have said that it would not be wise to change PM during the crisis in Ukraine. Walker also challenged Mr Lewis on this claim saying: “Tobias Elwood, who’s the chair of the defence select committee, [said] that if you look at history we changed Prime Minister twice during World War Two and during the Gulf War. And the point that he specifically made was that we’ve been helping Ukraine since 2014 and this has been happening through a number of prime ministers being in charge. Also the head of the UK armed forces was changed in December and this is a well-oiled military machine. It doesn’t require the day-to-day support of the Prime Minister. There are support mechanisms there which can happen whoever’s in charge.”
Mr Lewis remained steadfast in his support for the beleaguered PM saying: “Well from my point of view, I’ve got to say, I’m supporting the Prime Minister and I will continue to support the Prime Minister because he’s working hard and getting the decisions right and a range of issues that… on Ukraine he’s been leading that, that work around the world with our colleagues.”