UNITED KINGDOM – Aperitifs were organized every Friday in Downing Street during confinement, the newspaper said on Saturday January 15 The Mirror, extending the list of accusations against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose position seems increasingly precarious.
Stuck in a “partygate”, the 57-year-old conservative is openly criticized in his majority and faces his worst crisis since coming to power in July 2019. He apologized to Parliament on Wednesday for his presence at one of these parties in May 2020 saying he thought it was a business meeting.
“Friday aperitifs” during confinement
But since then, other revelations have arisen, including a party in Downing Street – without Boris Johnson – on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021. Elizabeth II attended her husband’s funeral alone in the chapel of the castle of Windsor, a symbolic image of the rigor of confinements.
On Saturday, the Mirror claims that every Friday, Downing Street workers ended their working week by sharing glasses of wine, a “longstanding tradition” which has continued despite the introduction of Covid-related restrictions prohibiting this type of met.
The newspaper adds that the staff had invested in a fridge to keep their bottles of alcohol cool and that the Prime Minister was aware of these gatherings.
A spokesperson for Downing Street referred to the conclusions of an investigation led by a senior civil servant, Sue Gray, who will have to determine whether Boris Johnson and his collaborators broke the rules during these various events.
Has Boris Johnson ‘lost moral authority’?
But anger is brewing, including in the conservative ranks. MP Andrew Bridgen said on Saturday that he “does not need to wait for what Sue Gray says to know that for me Boris Johnson has lost the moral authority to lead the country”.
Boris Johnson has launched the counterattack designed to hold on to power. Newspapers have reported that his backers have been called upon to tout his achievements, including delivering Brexit, and that some of his aides will be asked to leave.
Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer repeated his call for the resignation on Saturday, saying it is in the “national interest”. “We have a Prime Minister who is absent – he is literally in hiding at the moment – and he is unable to lead, which is why I have concluded that he must go,” he said during a intervention in front of the left think tank The Fabian Society.
But Keir Starmer has himself been accused of hypocrisy over photos showing him having a beer with a small group of Labor workers in an office last May, at a time when indoor meetings were banned, except in the professional context.
When the photo was first published last year, his party argued that Keir Starmer had not broken any rules because he was at a “workplace”.
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