Sunak Blames Boris and Carrie Johnson For £50 Partygate Fine, Friends Say
10:35 GMT 13.04.2022 (Updated: 15:24 GMT 28.05.2023)
Rishi Sunak was hotly-tipped to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister until it emerged last week that his wife Akshata Murty, daughter of Indian billionaire businessman N. R. Narayana Murthy, had potentially avoided paying tens of millions in income tax by maintaining non-domicile status.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is said to have blamed Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie after he was slapped with a £50 police fine for being at the PM's surprise birthday party.
A friend of the chancellor, whose wife has avoided paying up to £20 million in income tax in the UK for years, complained to The Times that he had been "dragged into" the scandal by a cake-wielding Carrie Johnson.
The report was confirmation that the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) fines handed to Johnson and Sunak by London's Metropolitan Police were for the surprise birthday party that Mrs Johnson threw for her husband in the cabinet room on 19 June 2020, during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
A spokeswoman for the PM's wife stated on Tuesday that that she had also been fined.
Sunak's friends insisted that he had only turned up for a cabinet meeting and did not know Carrie Johnson was about to ambush her husband with a birthday cake, while Downing Street staff gathered to sing him 'Happy Birthday'.
"Rishi's view is he was just there for a meeting, and now he's getting humiliated for something he never wanted to do," a second source told The Times. "He is a man of honour and he genuinely is thinking about whether he can still be part of this."
Opposition leaders seized on Tuesday's announcement of the fines — the legal equivalent of a parking ticket — to demand both Johnson and Sunak resign.
On Wednesday morning, a Conservative backbencher also said BoJo must go.
"In all conscience I don’t think a prime minister can survive or should survive breaking the rules he put in place and he was on the TV every few nights, reminding us all that we should observe," Amber Valley MP Nidel Mills told BBC Radio Derby. "We have to have higher standards than that of people at the top. He has been fined, I don’t think his position is tenable, in my view."
But threats of a palace coup against Johnson over the 'Partygate' saga have evaporated amid the enthusiasm for his backing of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with arms for his fight with Russia.
12 April 2022, 12:42 GMT
Sunak was tipped to succeed Johnson as PM until last week, when it emerged that his wife Akshata Murty, daughter of Indian billionaire businessman N. R. Narayana Murthy, had maintained tax domicile status in her native India, not the UK. Murty has now said she will pay tax on her earnings there in the UK.
It also emerged that the chancellor had held US 'Green Card' residency status, raising questions about his own tax affairs. Sunak subsequently asked the PM to refer the case to Lord Geidt, the independent advisor on minister's interests.