A TORY minister has suggested Boris Johnson being fined for breaking his own Covid rules by attending a party in his honour in No 10 is equivalent to receiving a parking ticket.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis spoke out at the Prime Minister prepares to face MPs for the first time since paying a Fixed Penalty Notice from the Metropolitan Police.

Lewis also denied the Tory leader is a liar as he is accused of misleading Parliament over the partygate scandal.

Lewis told Sky News the Prime Minister was not the first No 10 incumbent to receive a penalty for a legal infringement.

“I think we do see consistently, whether it is through parking fines or speeding fines, ministers of both parties over the years have been in that position,” said the former Conservative Party chairman.

“We’ve had prime ministers in the past who have received penalty notices, from what I can see, and also front bench ministers.

“I saw there was a parking notice that Tony Blair had once. We’ve seen front bench Labour ministers and, let’s be frank, Government ministers as well.”

He added: “You’ve asked me, can someone who sets the laws and the rules, can they also be someone who breaks the rules?

“That clearly has happened with a number of ministers over the years.”

In 2003, it was revealed then-prime minister Blair had been paying a lower level of congestion charge on his people carrier even though it had not been registered for the discount. The Labour leader paid the correct fee but would have been liable for fines if the car has been used in the zone because of his failure to register it. Downing Street said Blair, who had been focused on the Iraq War, had not done this because "he has been busy".

Questioned about his choice of response on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lewis replied: “I’m not in any way trying to equate a speeding ticket with the sacrifices people have made through Covid.”

Senior opposition MPs said there was a “massive difference” between a Covid FPN and a speeding ticket.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, told ITV’s Lorraine programme: “I have never had anybody break down in front of me because they couldn’t drive at 35mph in a 30mph zone; I have had no end of people in tears – in real bits – about complying with rules that really, really hurt them.”

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the LibDems, said the Northern Ireland Secretary’s response was an “insult to bereaved families and all those who made huge sacrifices while Johnson partied”.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson refusing to address fresh partygate revelations as he faces MPs

Earlier, Lewis argued that the Prime Minister did not mislead Parliament over the partygate allegations, having initially insisted that coronavirus guidance was followed in No 10.

Speaking to Sky News, the Northern Ireland Secretary denied his boss is a liar.

He said: “As he said last week in his statement, and the Prime Minister will be talking to Parliament later today to make a statement, but at every point he has been clear with what he believes to be the truth.

“What he also accepts is that the police have looked into this particular issue and taken a view that a fine should be issued – he accepts that, he has paid that fine, he has apologised for that.”

Asked whether Johnson accepts that he broke the rules, Lewis replied: “In the sense that he has paid a fine that the police have decided to issue because the rules were broken.

“But that doesn’t mean that anything he said to Parliament was inaccurate at the time. What he said to Parliament he believed to be true at the time.”

Johnson is expected to make a statement to Parliament on Tuesday in which he will apologise to MPs after being fined.

However, according to allies, the PM still refuses to accept he technically broke the rules and will refuse to address fresh allegations that he was the instigator of another lockdown bash being investigated by police.

It is understood the Conservative leader will point to the crisis in Ukraine and new plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda in an attempt to portray the Met investigation as a distraction from key issues, despite the fact he and the Chancellor could face further fines.

The chairman of the Commons Defence Committee has said Ukraine should not distract from the difficult issues facing the Prime Minister.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said that now was the time for Johnson to address partygate.

“If I may, I need to distinguish between what’s going on in Ukraine and the fact that, yes, there is a difficult issue facing number 10,” he said.

“But we shouldn’t use the fig leaf of our involvement with Ukraine to somehow say this is not a time to address those difficult challenges.”

Ellwood added that there is a “Rolls Royce Whitehall machine” that can provide advice to whoever is the prime minister of the day.

“So, whatever prime minister, whoever that will be, will get the same advice,” he said.

“If there were a leadership contest, you’d actually see, I think, a bidding war of candidates wanting to do more to lean forward to support Ukraine."

But Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbench MPs, said it was “certainly not in the country’s interests to think about replacing the Prime Minister”, given the “blood war” in eastern Europe and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

He explained he wanted to see “all the evidence”, which would include whether more fines are issued, the full publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the party claims and what verdict the British people give in the local government elections.