- There have been increasing calls for Boris Johnson to resign.
- This is after a report was released with condemnatory results that Johnson presided over a culture of lockdown-breaking parties.
- Johnson has been fined for violating the lockdown rules.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, rejected calls for his resignation after a poll on Wednesday showed he presided over a culture of shutdown-breaking parties that included intoxicated fights among staff.
Johnson is among dozens of people on Downing Street who have received police fines for violating Covid rules since 2020 – making number 10 the most punishable address in the entire country.
“I take full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch,” he told MPs in response to the long-awaited report from senior official Sue Gray, who insisted: “I am humble and I have learned.”
But Johnson said he was absent from most events and denied ever having lied to parliament or having urged Gray privately to bury her 37-page report.
He expressed hope that with the study now over, “we will be able to move forward” in addressing priorities, including the war in Ukraine and a rising cost of living crisis in the UK.
Gray published photographs of Johnson toasting staff with wine, describing the throat that sometimes stretched out in the early hours to music from a karaoke machine.
“Many of these incidents should not have been allowed to happen,” Gray wrote, revealing that Downing Street security and cleaning staff were mocked as they tried to protest staff behavior.
Junior workers who ended up getting fines by London’s Metropolitan Police – most of them women – had been asked to attend events by their bosses, the report said.
“The top leadership at the center, both political and official, must bear the responsibility for this culture,” Gray added, noting the painful sacrifices made by the British public to respect the rules set by Johnson’s government.
‘Pack your bags’
The report came out when another photograph published by the Daily Mirror showed a table in Downing Street filled with wine bottles and donuts.
It said an accompanying WhatsApp message told staff: “Time to open the secure Covid bar.”
The prime minister defied calls to resign after receiving a police fine in April.
The main opposition Labor Party said the “catalog of crime” revealed by Grays’ report confirmed its demand that Johnson withdraw.
“You can not be a lawmaker and a lawbreaker,” Labor leader Keir Starmer told Johnson in the House of Commons.
“It’s time to pack his bags,” added Starmer, who has vowed to stop if police in the North East of England are fined for an alleged breach of Covid rules during an election campaign rally.
With polls showing deep public disapproval of the “Partygate,” Conservative lawmakers must calculate whether Johnson remains an electoral candidate or is now a passive on his way to two important by-elections next month.
Last month, the Conservatives lost hundreds of council seats in local elections, though anger over the conspicuous rise in the cost of living was seen as the main issue at the ballot box.
Johnson was later to hold a press conference before attending a meeting with the Tories on the back table, some of whom have written to demand a no-confidence vote.
Senior Conservative Tobias Ellwood reiterated his demands that Johnson go, and warned his colleagues that the party could lose the next parliamentary election by 2024.
“Can we continue to rule without distraction given the erosion of confidence in the British people?” he said in parliament.
But Johnson replied “emphatically yes, we will go ahead and win the next parliamentary election because we are moving forward with the job”.
In his findings, Gray said the Downing Street press office organized regular “WTF” (“Wine-Time Friday”) drinks starting at 6 p.m. 16:00.
She showed senior officials discussing how to handle different invitations.
In a WhatsApp exchange, Johnson’s former communications director Lee Cain noted the “pretty significant communication risks” of holding a graduation party for an official in June 2020.
Gray said the party got underway and lasted for hours.
“There was excessive alcohol consumption by some individuals. One person was ill,” she wrote. “There was a minor altercation between two other people.”
In another exchange after a garden party in May 2020, where senior official Martin Reynolds invited staff to “bring your own booze”, Reynolds told an unnamed colleague that the media was focused on an unspecified “non-story”.
But he said it was “better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have gotten away with).”
Boris Johnson remains defiant as calls for his resignation rise in the midst of the Partygate scandal
Source link Boris Johnson remains defiant as calls for his resignation rise in the midst of the Partygate scandal