Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Boris Johnson’s office apologizes for party on eve of royal funeral

LONDON – Boris Johnson’s office apologized to the royal family on Friday for holding staff parties in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last year – the latest in a string of alleged lockdown-violating gatherings that have hit the British Prime Minister. Minister is threatening to demolish

Farewell parties for Johnson’s late spin doctor and another employee, accompanied by late night drinking and dancing, took place on April 16, 2021, the night Queen Elizabeth II sat alone at her husband’s funeral, because of social distancing. She sat alone at her husband’s funeral to slow down the rules. spread of coronavirus.

Johnson’s spokesman Jamie Davis acknowledged that news of the gatherings had caused “significant public anger”.

“It is very regrettable that this happened at a time of national mourning and Number 10 apologized to the palace,” he said, using a word for the prime minister’s 10 Downing St. office.

Johnson’s former communications director James Slack – who is now deputy editor-in-chief of tabloid newspaper The Sun – apologized “incessantly” for the “anger and hurt” caused by his farewell party.

Johnson’s office said the prime minister was not in Downing Street, where he both lives and works, on 16 April, and was unaware that any gathering had been planned. But each new revelation about social events inside the prime minister’s office during the pandemic has weakened his grip on power and strengthened calls for his resignation.

Earlier this week, Johnson apologized for attending a Downing Street Garden party in May 2020, when the UK was under strict lockdown and people were banned by law from meeting more than one person outside their homes . Millions were cut off from family and friends, and even barred from visiting relatives who died in hospitals.

Most indoor social gatherings were also banned in April 2021, and funerals were limited to 30 people.

The symbolism of the time of the latest events has shocked many in Britain. The Daily Telegraph, which broke the news, said that Downing Street employees drank, danced and socialized late into the night, and at one point accompanied an employee to a nearby supermarket with a suitcase to buy more alcohol. Was sent. The next day, the widowed Queen sat alone in a church at Windsor Castle to say goodbye to her husband of 73 years.

Photographs of the emperor, dressed in black and wearing a face mask, became a powerful image of the isolation and sacrifice endured by many during the pandemic.

Many conservatives fear that “Partygate” could become a turning point for a leader who has weathered a series of other storms over his expenses and his moral judgment.

A scandal that began with reports of a December 2020 Office Christmas party has grown to nearly a dozen alleged social events at 10 Downing Street and other government buildings. On Friday, Kate Joseph, the former head of the government’s COVID-19 task force, admitted to holding a drinking gathering in her office in December 2020.

Sheffield City Council chief executive, Joseph, said: “I’m really sorry I did this and because of the anger people will feel as a result, I did this.”

In a sign of growing conservative anger over the revelations, the party’s union in the staunch Tory district of Sutton Coldfield in central England voted unanimously on Thursday night to withdraw its support for Johnson.

“Culture starts at the top, doesn’t it?” Simon Ward, a conservative local councillor, said. He said people across the country were asked to make “huge sacrifices” during the pandemic.

“I think we have a right to expect everyone in government and in those positions of leadership to follow the same rules and guidelines,” he said.

Johnson said in his apology on Wednesday that he understood the public’s “anger” but refrained from admitting wrongdoing, saying he gave the garden a task to thank employees for their efforts during the pandemic. Consider gathering the program.

Johnson urged people to await the conclusion of an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Grey into all of the party’s allegations. Grey, a respected public servant who has investigated past allegations of ministerial wrongdoing, is expected to report by the end of the month.

The government maintains that Gray’s investigation is independent, but he is a civil servant and Johnson is ultimately his boss. Gray may conclude that Johnson broke the code of conduct for government ministers, although she does not have the power to sack him. Johnson has not said what he would do if he found he was at fault.

Johnson will not face a voter’s decision until the next general election, scheduled for 2024. But his party may try to oust him sooner if allies believe the leader he has chosen for his popular appeal has turned toxic.

Under Conservative rules, a vote of no confidence in the leader can be triggered if 54 party MPs – 15% of the total – write letters demanding it.

Conservative MP Roger Gale, a longtime critic of Johnson, said he had already submitted a letter calling for a leadership change.

“I think the mind is now focused on the need to take the necessary action this weekend,” he said. “I believe there is some momentum that is increasing.”

Cabinet ministers stand with Johnson, at least for now.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – often cited as a possible successor to Johnson – said she understood “the anger and frustration of the people” at the party’s disclosures.

But she said “I think now we need to move on.”

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