'I will comply with the law': Boris Johnson faces MPs after Gray report

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By Orlando Crowcroft  with AP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the Houses of Commons, London, Monday 31 January 2022
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the Houses of Commons, London, Monday 31 January 2022   -   Copyright  Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP

Boris Johnson was asked if he would resign if British police find that he attended a party at Downing Street that breached COVID-19 regulations during the UK's lockdown in 2020.

Speaking to MPs at the weekly prime minister's question time (PMQs), Johnson said: "I will comply with the law" but declined to say whether he would resign because the police investigation was ongoing.

It was Johnson's first PMQs since the publication of a report that found “failures of leadership” over COVID lockdown parties in Downing Street.

The scandal dubbed Partygate caused a significant public uproar, forcing Johnson to apologise to MPs on Tuesday, saying, "I get it, and I will fix it", and promising to reform his office.

But unlike in previous weeks, Partygate did not dominate the sitting of the house, with Labour leader Keir Starmer instead grilling Johnson about economic issues.

The Scottish National Party's (SNP) leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, asked Johnson a number of questions on the scandal, which were parried by Johnson.

And his bullish performance at the week's PMQs might not be enough to rally an acrimonious Conservative party, with more MPs demanding his resignation as the scandal drags on.

Some Tories feel that despite promising to change, Johnson showed a lack of remorse during his statement to the Commons last Friday and did not understand the anger felt at the Partygate revelations by millions who put up with loneliness or worse to follow the rules.

In her partial report, senior civil servant Sue Gray found that "failures of leadership and judgment" allowed events to occur that "should not have been allowed to take place".

She probed a dozen gatherings between 2020 and 2021, including the "Bring Your Own Booze" party held on May 20, 2020, a Christmas quiz, a Christmas party as well as several leaving-dos for advisers and officials.

Gray only released her findings on four of 16 events being probed, while police are investigating the other dozen that took place amid measures leaving millions of UK residents banned from socialising as the country attempted to curb the spread of COVID-19.