Boris Johnson has “shattered the ministerial code” by not resigning over partygate, according to a leading historian.
Lord Hennessy said the prime minister had “broken the law and misled parliament” after he was fined by the Metropolitan Police for breaching their own Covid rules.
Johnson, his wife Carrie and Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak received notices of fixed fines for attending a birthday party for the prime minister at No. 10 in June 2020.
He has been accused of misleading parliament, a breach of ministerial code, by telling MPs last December that Covid rules were followed in Downing Street at all times.
Although he has apologized, the prime minister is expected to make a strong defense of his behavior when he makes a statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Speaking to BBC Broadcasting House, Lord Hennessy, who is a fellow crusader, said “we are in the most severe constitutional crisis involving a prime minister that I can remember.”
He said he had written in his diary: “Tuesday, April 12, 2022, will forever be remembered as a dark and gloomy day for public and political life” and described Johnson as “the greatest demeanor in modern times of decency in the public and political life. and of our constitutional conventions.”
“The queen’s prime minister is now undoubtedly a rogue prime minister, unworthy of her, her parliament, her people and her kingdom,” he said.
“I don’t remember a day when I was more afraid for the welfare of the constitution.
“It is an assault not only on the decent state of mind that keeps our society open and clean, but also on the institutions of the state.
“If you’re not prepared to do the decent thing…why should anyone else behave decently and properly? The whole decency of our public life revolves around this question.”
But the prime minister was defended by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said he “spoke to Parliament in good faith” when he insisted no rule had been broken.
The cabinet minister said: “I think when you hear what happened in the party that he has been fined for, a lot of people would think that they were in accordance with the rules, when they met with people that they were with every day, what happened to wish you a happy birthday, because that was the day it was.
“I think that was a perfectly rational thing to believe. Now the police have decided otherwise and the police have authority. But I wasn’t thinking of something irrational or unreasonable, that was within the rules.”