‘Partygate’ pressure builds on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership

Press Trust of India

By: Aditi Khanna

London: The British opposition are leading the charge to pressure British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday as a picture of a booze culture in the heart of Downing Street emerges, with new reports of so-called ‘Fridays in the ‘wine hour’ by staff during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Opposition Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer made a major speech to say the so-called ‘partygate’ scandal shows Johnson is guilty of ‘deceit and deceit’ and incapable of leading the country.

Starmer’s latest salvo comes as a poll for ‘The Times’ found that seven in 10 UK voters believe Johnson was not honest about his story of attending a lockdown breaking party at Downing Street.

The YouGov survey found that 70% of voters, including more than half of those who voted Conservative in the 2019 election, did not believe Johnson’s Commons narrative. Eight in 10 said they did not think the gathering, as described by the Prime Minister in Parliament earlier this week as a work event, was acceptable under lockdown rules.

“We are witnessing the shattered spectacle of a prime minister mired in deceit and deceit, unable to lead,” Starmer said in an address to the Fabian Society conference.

Besides the opposition stepping up its attacks on the British prime minister, Johnson is believed to have gone into hiding over the weekend amid a near-mutiny by several of his own MPs and activists. ‘Sky News’ says there are reports he is preparing a response to save his premiership, which he calls ‘Operation Save Big Dog’.

Meanwhile, the ‘Daily Mirror’ claims Johnson encouraged his assistants to ‘let off steam’ despite being banned from socializing in large groups under his own lockdown rules at the height of the pandemic. It is even claimed that the regular events were so popular that staff invested in a £142 drinks fridge to keep their bottles of white wine, prosecco and beer chilled for the so-called ‘Fridays at night’. wine”.

It is alleged Downing Street aides took turns visiting a local supermarket on Fridays with a wheeled suitcase to fill the fridge with 34 bottles. It was this suitcase that was used the day before Prince Philip’s funeral on April 16 last year, the latest ‘partygate’ allegation that led Downing Street to apologize to Queen Elizabeth II.

It was followed by another damaging revelation, with the former head of the government’s COVID task force apologizing for having had a farewell drink at the UK Cabinet Office when she left the civil service on December 17, 2020 , while strict restrictions were in place in England.

Kate Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she was ‘truly sorry’ for ‘the anger people will feel’ and said the rally was now part of the ongoing internal investigation. by senior official Sure Gray.

Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said: “I don’t need to see what Sue Gray is saying to know that for me Boris Johnson has lost the moral authority to lead the country.

“If there is another emergency where he has to call on the public to make sacrifices, he doesn’t have that authority. This makes his position in my book, as Prime Minister, completely untenable.

Bridgen is one of a growing number of Tory MPs who speak out against their leader. Many say their email inboxes filled up after No 10 apologized to the Queen for staff parties the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

Johnson wasn’t at that rally last April, but he’s now battling a growing tide of alleged COVID rule violations right where those rules were set.

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