Scandals are piling up for Boris Johnson. After a new controversy over an evening in Downing Street in full confinement, for which the British Prime Minister has apologized, the newspaper The Telegraph reveals another party on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.
Boris Johnson will he emerge unscathed from this “partygate”? New revelations about the parties held at the heart of British power come to the end of a disastrous week for Boris Johnson, now openly contested within his majority.
Thursday January 13, Telegraph revelations reported a new party in Downing Street, still in full confinement, but this time on the eve of the funeral of Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, while the country was in national mourning.
The services of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized to Queen Elizabeth II on Friday. “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and 10 (Downing Street) has issued an apology to the Palace,” a spokesman for the Tory leader said. These apologies were made through official channels.
But these new revelations extend an already long list of parties organized in circles of power during the periods of confinement of the last two years. The 57-year-old Conservative leader had already apologized to Parliament on Wednesday for attending a party on May 20, 2020 in the gardens of his official residence, saying he then thought it was a business meeting.
The event, for which an invitation had been sent by his secretary to around 100 people with the suggestion that they bring their bottles, took place during a traumatic time for Britons. In the midst of the first wave of Covid-19, only two people were allowed to meet outside, and many Britons were unable to say goodbye to their dying loved ones.
“A moral vacuum at the heart of the government”
A month earlier, on April 17, 2020, Downing Street aides – minus the Prime Minister – had already celebrated the departure of two members of the team, according to The Telegraph, communications director James Slack, since editor-in-chief assistant to the tabloid The Sun, and a personal photographer for Boris Johnson.
The revelers, around 30, had gathered in the gardens of the official residence, according to the conservative newspaper which once employed Boris Johnson. A participant had been sent to buy wine brought back to Downing Street in a suitcase, he said.
The list goes on and on. On Friday afternoon, the former head of the group responsible for drawing up the anti-Covid restrictions, Kate Josephs, in turn apologized for having organized a going away party at the government offices on December 17, 2020.
These seemingly endless revelations also highlight, according to witnesses quoted in the media, a real drinking culture in Downing Street.
Very critical, several Conservative MPs, some of whom were fervent supporters until now, joined the opposition to demand the resignation of Boris Johnson.
Denouncing “a moral vacuum at the heart of the government”, Andrew Bridgen is the latest to have introduced a letter of defiance to a powerful committee governing the parliamentary organization of the Conservative Party.
If he receives enough, the latter will have to organize a new leadership race to replace the Prime Minister.
Internal investigation at 10 Downing Street
The very timid support given to Boris Johnson by a heavyweight in the executive, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, perceived as a potential candidate for the post of Prime Minister, has been widely commented on.
Traveling in Devon, south-west England, as the head of government faced the wrath of MPs, Rishi Sunak took eight hours to line up behind him, via a tweet in which he insisted on his own commitment to employment in the UK.
“The Prime Minister has done well to apologize and I support his request to be patient” pending the results of the internal investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray, he soberly declared.
Expected at best next week, the conclusions of this internal investigation now promise to be decisive for the fate of Boris Johnson.
Towards a vote of no confidence?
Mocked for the line they are following of not investigating a post facto violation of anti-Covid rules, London police announced Thursday evening that they would reconsider their way of seeing things if the internal investigation brought to light. evidence of potential criminal offenses.
A sign of the cracks that are cracking the unity of the ruling party, the revolt is also brewing among Scottish Conservatives, who consider his position untenable, and Tory deputies in Westminster.
Like Roger Gale, for whom Boris Johnson is an “living dead”, some elected officials have openly said they are in favor of a vote of no confidence within the Conservative Party in order to push him towards the exit.
“The position of the Prime Minister is untenable and I think we should not let the conclusions of a civil servant determine his future,” agreed another member, William Wragg, the vice-chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee, responsible for the parliamentary organization of training. “It is up to the Conservative Party, if not the Prime Minister himself, to make that decision,” he added on the BBC.
Boris Johnson, who came to power triumphantly in July 2019, has since seen his long-lasting popularity plummet in the polls. One, produced by YouGov for the Times ahead of its apology, gives Labor a wide ten-point lead, the first in nearly a decade.
On Thursday, the head of government escaped the cameras and questions from the media: contact case, he canceled a planned visit to a vaccination center