Cornered, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged this January 12 before parliamentarians his presence at a party in Downing Street in full confinement in 2020. He haspresented his “apologies from the bottom of my heart”, without convincing the opposition which asks for his resignation.
In an overheated House of Commons, the head of the Conservative government maintained that he believed the event of May 20, 2020, held in the gardens of his official residence, was a working meeting.
At that time, in the midst of the first wave of Covid-19, only two people were allowed to be outside and many Britons were unable to say goodbye to their dying loved ones, hence the extent of the anger caused by this event to which more than 100 people would have been invited with instructions to bring a drink.
I apologize from the bottom of my heart
Boris Johnson explained that he should have considered that if the event could “technically” be considered as being within the rules, the perception of the British, prevented from meeting their relatives, could be quite different. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he said. He said he took responsibility for the “mistakes” that were made.
Faced with a series of revelations at the end of last year on parties organized in circles of power in defiance of health rules to fight against the coronavirus in 2020, Boris Johnson has seen in recent days the noose tighten on him.
Chain ITV revealed on the evening of January 10 the existence of an email sent on May 20, 2020 to a hundred people by the Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister, Martin Reynolds. “Bring your bottles”, launched the invitation, which called for “taking advantage of the good weather” during a drink “with social distancing” in the gardens of the Prime Minister’s residence. About thirty or forty people had responded to the invitation, according to the press, including the head of government and his fiancee Carrie, whom he married shortly after.
Calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister
Accusing Boris Johnson of “lying like a tooth puller”, Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer judged the Prime Minister’s defense “so ridiculous” that it would be “insulting” for the British. “Will he now have the decency to resign?” He said. The Scottish separatists of the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have also called for his departure.
On this point, Boris Johnson referred to the internal investigation led by senior official Sue Gray.
Two years after his historic electoral victory, Her Majesty’s Head of Government has seen his popularity, long stainless, plummet in recent months. Anger is also brewing with increasing vigor within the ranks of the ruling Conservative Party. Party leader in Scotland, Douglas Ross, is calling for resignation if Boris Johnson is found to have broken the rules. According to the media, some believe that the question is no longer whether Boris Johnson will have to step down from power, but when.
“Johnson loses Tories support”, headline on January 12 the conservative Daily Telegraph, while the popular Daily Mail wonders if “the party is over for the Prime Minister”.
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) January 11, 2022
In addition to the holidays, his reputation has been tarnished by suspicions of lying about the financing of the luxurious renovation of his official apartment, the awarding of contracts between friends during the pandemic or even accusations of favoritism.
If he continues to refuse to leave, a vote of no confidence within the party – requiring 54 letters to be called – would be enough to overthrow him. Unlikely in the immediate future, this option is no longer taboo among the conservatives, reluctant to bother with leaders in turmoil, and who could prefer the Minister of Finance Rishi Sunak, or the head of diplomacy Liz. Truss.
If this crisis around respect for the rules appears to be the most serious for Boris Johnson, it is far from being the first. He had already been confronted with the storms caused by the displacement through England in full containment of his ex-adviser Dominic Cummings, and his ex-Minister of Health Matt Hancock had had to resign after being filmed kissing a collaborator, in contempt anti-Covid rules.