Boris Johnson: Queen mourns, Downing Street celebrates – parties cause outrage

PM under fire
Queen mourns, Downing Street celebrates: Johnson’s lockdown parties cause outrage

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of Great Britain, shakes his head as he speaks about Corona measures during a press conference

© Jack Hill / The Times / PA Wire / DPA

Boris Johnson is already heavily criticized for several alleged lockdown parties at his official residence. New revelations further aggravate the situation for the British prime minister. Now even the grieving Queen is drawn into the affair.

The British government’s “Partygate” scandal is spreading again. A few hours before the Queen officially said goodbye to her longtime husband Prince Philip, people were said to have been drinking and dancing in Downing Street: New revelations about further lockdown parties at Boris Johnson’s official residence further exacerbate the prime minister’s explosive situation. On the eve of the Queen’s husband’s funeral in April, dozens of Downing Street employees are said to have celebrated two parties there, as the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Friday night. A total of around 30 people took part. At that time, there were strict contact and distance rules due to the corona pandemic. Regulations forced the Queen to sit alone in the chapel at her Windsor residence the next day when her husband of 73 years was buried there.

Queen mourns – Johnson celebrates

The photo of the lonely queen was one of the defining impressions of the pandemic, touching the hearts of millions of Brits. The outrage is now all the greater. “While they mourned, No. 10 celebrated,” said Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey. Although Johnson himself did not attend the April 16, 2021 parties, nor was he present at Downing Street, he is held responsible for the behavior of his staff. “I have no words for the culture and behavior in No. 10,” said deputy leader of the main opposition Labor party, Angela Rayner. The fish stinks from the head. It is the first known lockdown party at the seat of government in 2021. So far, several celebrations in May and December 2020 have become public. A report from Monday caused a lot of trouble. Accordingly, on May 20, 2020, Johnson’s office manager invited around 100 employees to a garden party in an email. He emphasized: “Bring your own alcohol.”

Johnson’s apology in Parliament

Johnson apologized in Parliament on Wednesday for the impression that those who make the Corona rules are not sticking to them. He acknowledged being present in the garden for 25 minutes on May 20, 2020. According to his impression, it was a work meeting. In retrospect, he was wrong about that, Johnson said. However, he called for the result of an ongoing internal investigation to be awaited before consequences are drawn. The opposition is already demanding his resignation. Some MPs from Johnson’s Conservative Party have also called on the prime minister to step down.

Premier under fire: Queen mourns, Downing Street celebrates: Johnson's lockdown parties spark outrage

“Event should not have taken place”

Because of the proximity to the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, who is extremely popular with the people, the celebrations that have now become known are considered particularly dangerous for Johnson. Downing Street did not deny the parties, as also reported by the BBC. Johnson’s former communications director James Slack gave a farewell speech to thank his staff, a spokeswoman said. She did not go into further details. Instead, a confirmation for the party came from Slack itself: The ex-head of communications, who now works for the “Sun”, apologized on Friday for the “anger and pain” he had caused. “This event should not have taken place at the time it did. I am very sorry and I take full responsibility,” he said.

Alcohol replenishment from the supermarket

According to the Telegraph, the second farewell was about a personal photographer of the prime minister. Strict distance rules were in force in mid-April 2021, members of different households were not allowed to meet in closed rooms. As the newspaper reported, an advisor to Johnson was temporarily responsible for the music. Several bottles of wine from a nearby supermarket were brought in a suitcase as a refill. A participant used his son’s swing in the garden of Johnson’s official residence and broke it. The two initially separate events would have merged around midnight.

Vote of no confidence in Johnson?

Commentators rated the article in the “Telegraph”, which is actually Johnson’s house newspaper and for which the 57-year-old himself used to work, as part of the power struggle for the future of the prime minister. Johnson has been trying with all his might to rally supporters around for days. If 15 percent of the 360 ​​conservative MPs speak out against the prime minister, there will be a vote of no confidence in the parliamentary group. Since the “Partygate” allegations became known last month, the prime minister’s approval ratings have plummeted. A new representative poll by polling firm YouGov for The Times newspaper found Labor is 10 percentage points ahead of the Tories – the widest lead since 2013. Six out of 10 voters also believe Johnson should resign.


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