The “world has moved on” from Partygate, a minister has claimed, as Jacob Rees-Mogg said some of the rules imposed on the country were “inhuman”.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said his constituents were not calling for resignations over parties held in No 10 and across Whitehall during Covid restrictions, as it was revealed the government’s former ethics chief had received a fine.
Helen MacNamara, the former deputy cabinet secretary, was reported to be among those to receive a fixed-penalty notice (FPN) from Scotland Yard as part of its investigation into alleged lockdown-breaching parties.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said on Monday that “of course” the allegations of partying did not sit comfortably with him, but he dismissed calls that anyone should resign if they were issued with a penalty.
‘They want contrition’
“I have 65,000 constituents in west Wales, where I represent, and they are not shy in coming forward and expressing a view about this and a number of other subjects,” he told Sky News.
“And throughout all of this saga of the Downing Street parties they have said one thing very clearly, and in a vast majority they say they want contrition and they want an apology, but they don’t want a resignation.”
Hart said “the world has moved on a considerable distance” and he told TalkRadio: “Looking at how this interview started and what we’re seeing in Ukraine, that helps contextualise all of this in my head.
“And I think we’re now dealing with something of such seriousness and such horror that what went on maybe two years ago clearly needs to be dealt with, and should be – it’s a source of irritation for a lot of people still – but I’m glad that this thing is now coming to a conclusion.”
It comes as Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested Johnson had been handed incorrect information about the gatherings before he told MPs no rules had been broken.
“The prime minister said that he was told the rules were followed, but that turns out not to be correct and we know that fines have now been issued, but the prime minister can only work on the information he is given,” he told LBC.
Rees-Mogg also defended his dismissal of the partygate row as “fluff” in the context of the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis.
He said some of the coronavirus restrictions imposed during lockdown were “inhuman”.
“I think those words in the context of what’s going on in Ukraine are completely reasonable,” he said.
“I don’t think the issue of what may or may not have happened in Downing Street and what we are now finding out is fundamental.
“What I think is fundamental is that we look in the (Covid-19) inquiry at how the rules were devised and the effect that they had, because I think some of those rules were inhuman.”