It is the dramatic news we thought might never come: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have both been fined for attending Downing Street parties during the Covid-19 lockdown.
We don’t yet know which events – or how many – have led both politicians to incur fixed-penalty notices, how much they have been fined, or any further details. But the fact of this development alone is seismic.
The consensus among Conservatives in recent weeks – as the heated speculation over Boris Johnson’s leadership began to cool – had been that the Prime Minister probably wouldn’t be fined and that, even if he was, he would survive.
But now the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have been found to have broken a law they set. It is an extraordinary situation and a blow to the very top of the government. And if the two most senior figures in government breaking the law isn’t enough, the Prime Minister also appears to have lied to parliament – a breach of the ministerial code that offers further grounds for his resignation.
Can Johnson and Sunak survive this? Keir Starmer has already called for both to resign. “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign,” the Labour leader said.
“The Conservatives are totally unfit to govern. Britain deserves better.”
Is this the moment the government unravels? It could well be – and even if it isn’t, the next few days and weeks will be very turbulent indeed.