After having to manage the wave of the coronavirus epidemic, Boris Johnson must now face the storm. That media but also political, fueled by the revelations in series on parties organized at 10 Downing Street while the country was under curfew, even confined. In this “partygate”, the 57-year-old Tory apologized to Parliament on Wednesday for his presence at one of these parties in May 2020 saying he had thought it was a business meeting.
But since then, other revelations have arisen, including a party in Downing Street, without Boris Johnson, on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021. Elizabeth II attended her husband’s funeral alone in the chapel of the castle of Windsor, a symbolic image of the rigor of confinements. And this Saturday, the Mirror claims that every Friday Downing Street workers ended their working week by sharing glasses of wine, a ‘longstanding tradition’ which has continued despite the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions and prohibiting this type of meeting.
Criticized even in its majority
The left-leaning tabloid, which has made political scandals its specialty, adds that staff had invested in a fridge to keep their bottles of alcohol cool and that the Prime Minister was aware of these gatherings. A spokesperson for Downing Street referred to the conclusions of an investigation led by a senior civil servant who will have to determine whether Boris Johnson and his collaborators broke the rules during the various events.
But anger is brewing, including in the conservative ranks of Boris Johnson who is fighting to stay in power. According to the newspapers, his supporters have been called upon to tout his achievements, including the implementation of Brexit, and some of his aides will be asked to leave. Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer calls for his resignation. “We are witnessing the sad spectacle of a Prime Minister mired in deceit and trickery, unable to lead,” he said in a speech on Saturday.
But he himself has been accused of hypocrisy over photos showing him having a beer with a small group of Labor workers in an office last May, at a time when indoor meetings were banned, except in the professional context. When the photo was first published last year, his party argued that Keir Starmer had not broken any rules because he was at a “workplace”.