Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak each received a fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police for breaking lockdown rules in Downing Street while the UK was in hard lockdown. Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Mr Sunak, all received fines for attending a birthday party for the Prime Minister, in which around 30 people allegedly gathered in the Cabinet Room at a time when the law restricted indoor gatherings of more than two people.
This was not the only event in question – a total of 12 lockdown breaches are included in the Met investigation, with some 50 fines handed out already, and more expected.
One of the parties in question took place in Number 10 on the night before the Queen attended the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip.
Photographs of the Queen, who was 94 at the time, sitting alone in church without any family or loved ones nearby as she mourned the loss of her husband became a resounding image of the sacrifices being made by the whole nation to protect public health and obey the law.
But when it emerged that the people who enforced those laws had not done the same, public anger grew.
In January 2022, when details of the lockdown parties emerged, Downing Street issued a formal apology to Buckingham Palace for the two staff parties believed to have taken place on the eve of the funeral, which are said to have gone on into the early hours.
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The Prime Minister’s spokesman said it was “deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning”.
The Prime Minister was not at these particular gatherings, but calls have increased since the fines were issued for him and the Chancellor to resign.
Both apologised, but have since doubled down on their intentions to remain in their posts.
Mr Johnson said he felt “an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people”, with Mr Sunak echoing that he was “focused on delivering for the British people”.
But the BBC reported bereaved families saying there was “simply no way either the Prime Minister or Chancellor can continue” in their jobs, calling their actions “truly shameless”.
Constitutionally, the Queen is required to remain strictly neutral in political affairs – but there is a clause that might allow her to intervene if required.
Under the Queen’s discretionary powers, she retains the right in a “grave constitutional crisis” to act contrary to, or even without, ministerial advice.
The last time a monarch removed a sitting Prime Minister in Britain was in 1834, so doing so now would be deeply unlikely.
However, Professor Robert Hazell from University College London told the Guardian that it may occur if the Prime Minister refused to step down following a vote of no confidence.
He stated that the Queen “could dismiss Boris Johnson if he lost a vote of no confidence and refused to resign”.
So what do you think? Is it time the Queen took matters into her own hands? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comments below.