A suitcase full of alcohol and dancing until dawn while Elizabeth II prepared to bury her husband in full confinement. Downing Street apologized to the queen yesterday after these revelations cap off a disastrous week for Boris Johnson.
This new leak to the press fell like an umpteenth bomb for the British prime minister, facing his biggest crisis since he triumphantly came to power in 2019 promising to carry out the stalled Brexit.
And also for the 95-year-old monarch, who on Thursday had already had to deal with the scandal caused by her “favorite son”, Prince Andrew, who was deprived of his royal honors due to the threat of a civil trial in the United States. for sexual assault on a minor.
In an image that will remain engraved as a symbol of the rigor of the confinements in the United Kingdom, on April 17, 2021, the queen, in deep mourning, was seen sitting totally alone in the chapel of Windsor Castle during the funeral of Prince Philip , to whom she was married for seven decades.
According to the conservative newspaper Daily Telegraph, that same morning Downing Street staff had celebrated in style the departure of two collaborators: communication director James Slack, now deputy director of The Sun, and a personal photographer of Johnson.
“It is deeply regrettable that this has taken place at a time of national mourning and Downing Street has apologized to the palace,” said a spokesman for the prime minister, a humiliating end to a week in which the so-called “partygate” continued to grow. ” or party scandal in government premises during confinement.
anger and pain
These two parties, one of which was held in a basement of the government headquarters, ended up joining in the gardens of the official residence, according to the Telegraph, a newspaper close to power.
One person went to a supermarket to buy bottles of wine that he took to Downing Street in a suitcase, he says.
At the time, indoor gatherings were prohibited, with only a maximum of six people allowed to gather outdoors.
In a statement, Slack apologized “unreservedly for the anger and pain caused,” saying it took “full responsibility.”
Johnson, 57, was not present. He was, according to a spokesman, at Checkers, the country residence of the British heads of government.
But these new revelations add to the already long list of alleged illegal parties, which show, according to witnesses quoted by the media, a true culture of consumption of alcoholic beverages in Downing Street.
And the list continues to grow: the former head of the group in charge of drawing up anticovid restrictions, Kate Josephs, also apologized for having organized a farewell party at the executive’s offices on December 17, 2020.
Heavily weakened in the polls, Johnson is fighting to retain the reins of his party and government after admitting in Parliament on Wednesday that he attended one of these parties during the lockdown in May 2020.
In his defense, he stated that he thought it was a “work event”, which caused widespread ridicule.
Several Conservative MPs, some of whom were ardent supporters of the prime minister, joined the opposition in calling for his resignation.
Andrew Bridgen was the last to present a letter to the committee that manages the Conservative Party parliamentary group, denouncing a “moral vacuum at the heart of the government” and calling for an internal motion of no confidence against its leader.
If enough of these letters are received, the committee will have to organize a new primary to replace Johnson.
And although most of his government has supported him, one of the heavyweights, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, considered a possible candidate for prime minister, was much more reserved.
Meanwhile, Johnson and his ministers repeat over and over again that we must wait for the publication of the conclusions, at best next week, of an internal investigation into the alleged illegal parties commissioned by high-ranking official Sue Gray.
But the newspaper The Times anticipated that this would not have found sufficient evidence of criminal offenses. (AFP)