TORY MP Michael Fabricant has defended Boris Johnson after he was fined for breaking lockdown laws, arguing that it wasn’t as if there were “pole dancers” at the Downing Street gatherings.

Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor are among at least 50 people being fined for lockdown-breaking gatherings around Westminster.

Johnson is understood to have been present at six of the at least 12 events being investigated by police.

Carrie Johnson, the wife of the Prime Minister, has also been told to expect a fixed-penalty notice (FPN), her spokesperson confirmed.

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Support for Johnson from his Cabinet has so far been silent, and while Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has stopped short of explicitly defending him he has refused to call for his resignation.

But Lichfield MP Fabricant stepped in, as he has done so several times before, to defend the Tory leader.

Shortly after the news emerged, Fabricant was on BBC’s 5 Live to discuss the story. He compared Johnson attending the gatherings to essential workers having a “quiet drink” during the strictest parts of the Covid lockdown.

“I think you’ve got to take it in context,” Fabricant said, “in the sense that I know that lots of people who were working long hours did at the end of the day have a quiet drink, whether you would call that a party is another matter, and that ranges not only from civil servants but to nurses and others, and nobody would begrudge them that …”

Presenter Mobeen Azhar pointed out to the Conservative MP that anecdotal evidence suggesting suitcases of booze had been wheeled into Downing Street did not present as a “quiet drink”.

Fabricant suggested that was acceptable behaviour because there is no bar in Number 10.

He told listeners: “Well there is no bar in Downing Street.

“That’s been going on for years, it happened under Tony Blair … that’s the only way you can actually get any alcohol into Downing Street. It’s not very dignified but as I say it happened under Tony Blair, it happened under Gordon Brown. Of course it wasn’t illegal then because there wasn’t a lockdown and there weren’t the rules in place. There weren’t wild parties under Tony Blair and I’m not clear there were any wild parties.

“The way it’s been characterised, you would think there were sort of, pole dancers.”

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Fabricant went on to give his advice for Johnson on how to handle being fined.

“The first thing the Prime Minister has to do is go to the House of Commons and say as he said before ‘I didn’t believe at the time I was doing anything illegal because it wasn’t a party, these were the same people I was working with all day’,” he told the show.

“There was no question, you see, of contagion, of people coming in from outside and therefore the disease could be spread and that’s what the rules were all about. But you’re quite right in saying … do the police think he broke the rules? Technically he could appeal, just like a speeding fine you can either pay up or say no I’m pleading not guilty. I’m not advising he should do that.”

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