Cornered, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged Wednesday before MPs his presence at a party in Downing Street in full confinement in 2020 and presented his “apologies”, without convincing the opposition which demands his resignation.
In the hot seat after a series of overwhelming scandals, this 57-year-old conservative with long-stainless popularity has had his most difficult weekly parliamentary questioning session since his triumphant arrival to power in July 2019, as the savior of a Brexit in the ‘dead end.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart”
The event in question, on May 20, 2020 in the gardens of his official residence, took place at a traumatic time for the British. In the midst of the first wave of Covid-19, only two people were allowed to be outside and many of them were unable to say goodbye to their dying loved ones.
In an electric House of Commons, Boris Johnson claimed to have then estimated that the evening, where a hundred people would have been invited with instructions to bring a drink, was a work meeting. He admitted to having spent 25 minutes in the garden, an office extension then “constantly” used given the virtues of the great outdoors against the virus.
“Ridiculous” and “insulting”
In a carefully considered intervention, he conceded that he should have concluded that while the event could “technically” be considered proper, the perception of “millions” of Britons could be quite different. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
Accusing the Prime Minister of lies, Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer deemed his defense “so ridiculous” that it was “insulting” to his compatriots. The “only question” is, according to the Labor leader, whether the British or his party will “kick him out”. Or will he now have the “decency to resign?” “, He launched.
A vote of no confidence?
Boris Johnson seems no longer safe from a vote of no confidence within his party, some of whose figures no longer hesitate to openly express their exasperation, like the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, who judges that its position is “no longer tenable”.
Unlikely in the immediate future, however, this option is no longer taboo among the conservatives, among whom the names of Finance Ministers Rishi Sunak or Foreign Affairs Liz Truss are circulating. The Scottish separatists of the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have also called for his departure.
Boris Johnson has meanwhile referred to the internal investigation led by senior official Sue Gray, whose conclusions are now shaping up to be decisive on his fate.
Suspicion of lies and favoritism
Faced with a series of revelations late last year about parties organized in power circles in defiance of health rules to fight the coronavirus in 2020, Boris Johnson has seen the accusations tighten.
The ITV television channel revealed on Monday evening the existence of an email sent by the Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister, Martin Reynolds, on May 20, 2020. “Bring your bottles”, launched the invitation which called for “to take advantage of the good weather ”on the occasion of a drink“ with social distancing ”in the gardens of the residence of the head of government.
Thirty or forty people had responded to the invitation, according to the press, including Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie whom he married shortly after. But, assures Downing Street, he had not read this email leaving little ambiguity on the festive nature of the event.
On Twitter, the association of relatives of Covid victims Bereaved Families for Justice ruled that Boris Johnson is “unable to speak the truth and must leave”.
In addition to the holidays, Boris Johnson found himself weakened by suspicion of lies about the financing of the luxurious renovation of his official apartment, the award of contracts between friends during the pandemic or even favoritism.