The prime minister was caught not wearing a seatbelt in a video posted on Instagram to promote the levelling-up fund.
Labour’s Angela Rayner is blunt in her analysis of the prime minister’s actions:
After the fine was announced this evening, she tweeted: “Rishi Sunak is a total liability.”
The law states that a seatbelt must be worn if one is fitted in the seat you’re using. The potential fine for not doing so is up to £500.
You don’t need to wear a seat belt if you’re:
1. A driver who is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing
2. In a vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services
3. A passenger in a trade vehicle and you’re investigating a fault
4. Driving a goods vehicle on deliveries that is travelling no more than 50 metres between stops
5. A licensed taxi driver who is ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers
A doctor can also give an exemption certificate for medical reasons and it must be kept in the car. You also need to tell your insurance company.
You must still wear a seatbelt if you are pregnant or disabled unless you have one of these certificates.
Scott Benton has struck a different tone to his fellow Lancashire MP (below).
Mr Benton, who represents Blackpool South, said the seatbelt complaint was politically motivated and a bad use of police time.
He tweeted this morning: “@LancsPolice do an amazing job, but I’m sure their time is better spent investigating serious crime which impacts on my constituents.
“The vast majority of people would think that politically motivated complaints about about a seat belt are not good use of frontline resources.”
Lancashire MP Cat Smith has thanked police for their road safety work and taken a swipe at Mr Sunak by saying “no one is above the law”.
Here’s Labour’s take on the PM’s fine for not wearing a seatbelt while he filmed a video in the back of a car.
“Hapless Rishi Sunak’s levelling up photo-op has blown up in his face and turned him into a laughing stock,” said a spokesman.
“He started the week hoping people would be grateful for a partial refund on the money that has been stripped from them over 13 years of the Tories. But instead he got a warring party and yet another fine from the police.
“Just when you thought this Tory government couldn’t get any more ridiculous, they manage it.”
The Liberal Democrats have put out a statement on the PM’s fine.
“Rishi Sunak has shown the same disregard for the rules as Boris Johnson, and now becomes the second prime minister to be fined by the police,” said deputy leader Daisy Cooper.
“From partygate to seatbelt gate, these Conservative politicians are just taking the British people for fools.
“Whilst they continue to behave as though it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else, this fine is a reminder that the Conservatives eventually get their comeuppance.”
Downing Street will be hoping that once the PM has paid up, voters and journalists will move on and forget this rather embarrassing unforced error.
To Rishi Sunak’s credit, he put his hands up and admitted the error almost immediately.
But it is a reminder that in the top job, with a permacrisis of strikes, NHS delays and high inflation, mistakes can slip through the Number 10 net.
Failing to wear a seatbelt is illegal, but filming it and publishing the evidence on social media suggests a lack of checks within the PM’s team.
This is the second police fine Mr Sunak has received in nine months, after the Met Police punished him for attending a lockdown-busting birthday gathering for Boris Johnson.
In recent months Mr Sunak has struggled with contactless payments, had an awkward conversation with a homeless man about financial services, and demonstrated a fondness for using private jets to travel around the UK even for relatively short journeys.
Added together, such slip-ups may be exploited by the PM’s enemies to claim he is out of touch.
There is certainly a danger these small missteps distract from Rishi Sunak’s attempts to stabilise the economy and sort out seemingly intractable issues like migrant crossings and delayed discharges.
Like many occupants of Number 11, Rishi Sunak was a ‘submarine chancellor’. Invisible below the waves for months on end, he occasionally rose from the deep to launch a killer economic intervention: his “whatever it takes” COVID budget, the furlough scheme, Eat Out To Help Out.
But as Gordon Brown (the last politician to move from 11 to 10) found, similar manoeuvres are not possible as prime minister.
You are constantly in the spotlight. And it is an unsparing existence.
Downing Street has issued a statement:
“The Prime Minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty.”
The PM has been given a fixed penalty notice after being caught not wearing a seatbelt, says Lancashire Police.
They issued the notice after the prime minister appeared without a belt in a clip on Instagram as he promoted his levelling-up funding in the county.
In a statement, the force said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seatbelt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.
“After looking into this matter, we have today (Friday, January 20) issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.”
The PM previously apologised for the “brief error of judgement”.
Fixed penalty notices for seat belt offences are usually £100, but can rise to £500 if taken to court.
A former minister and ally of Liz Truss has warned Rishi Sunak that the Conservative Party ill “die” unless it does more to address core concerns of younger voters.
Simon Clarke, who was levelling up secretary under former PM Ms Truss, has called on the government to engage younger people by focusing more on childcare and housing.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, he said: “I do think that our problems with younger voters are needlessly self-inflicted.
“The Conservative party will die if we don’t fix this.”
He added: “The average age at which people start to vote Conservative is now about 47. And that is not sustainable.”
Mr Clarke recently set up the Conservative Growth Group to put pressure on the PM to follow some of Ms Truss’s planned economic reforms.
Supporters of the former prime minister were disappointed when it was reported Mr Sunak had abandoned Ms Truss’s plans to reduce the costs of childcare by allowing staff to look after larger numbers of children.
Mr Clarke would like the prime minister to change tack on this and also introduce greater tax breaks for childcare.
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