Prime Minister who promised ‘integrity’ fined for second time

Rishi Sunak, who has been fined for failing to wear a seatbelt while filming a social media clip in the back of a moving car, came to office promising “integrity” after the scandals that eventually forced Boris Johnson from office.

In his first speech outside Downing Street, he pledged “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.

Those words raised hopes of an administration free from the kinds of controversy and accusations of sleaze that undermined Mr Johnson.

His premiership, cut short by his handling of the Chris Pincher controversy, had already been damaged by the “partygate” row and the ongoing House of Commons Privileges Committee investigation into whether he misled the House.

Mr Sunak was caught up in partygate too, receiving a fine alongside Mr Johnson from the Metropolitan Police for attending a gathering to mark the then-PM’s 56th birthday – in spite of the coronavirus restrictions in place.

But Mr Sunak’s eventual entry into Downing Street, after the short-lived and chaotic tenure of Liz Truss, was hailed as a welcome return to stability.

“Boring is back”, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove quipped shortly after Mr Sunak became prime minister.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street after meeting the King and accepting his invitation to become Prime Minister (PA)

But the latest inhabitant of Downing Street has been plagued by his own set of controversies from day one, from criticism for reinstating Suella Braverman as Home Secretary just six days after she was forced to step down over a security breach to an ongoing bullying inquiry into the Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

A second, and separate, police fine only adds to the woes of Mr Sunak, who has been in office since October and, according to polls, will struggle to remain in the office after the next general election.

The Prime Minister apologised for what Downing Street called an “error of judgement”, but it has already been seized on by opposition parties.

Labour had said it would be “very serious” if Mr Sunak was to receive a second fine.