Toby Melville via Reuters
UNITED KINGDOM – Boris Johnson again in trouble. The British Prime Minister celebrated his birthday in the company of relatives in full confinement despite the rules in force, the ITV television channel said on Monday, overwhelming the Conservative leader already criticized for parties in Downing Street. Second hard blow: after having been slow to intervene, the London police indicated on Tuesday January 25 that they were investigating “currently a certain number of events which took place in Downing Street”.
According to ITV, Boris Johnson participated in this party organized by his wife Carrie on June 19, 2020 in the afternoon, during the first confinement, when gatherings of more than six people were then prohibited. The party would have lasted 20 to 30 minutes, according to the channel.
Up to 30 people are said to have attended, including interior designer Lulu Lytle, who was tasked with carrying out the costly renovation of Boris Johnson’s controversially funded Downing Street apartment. According to a government spokeswoman, Boris Johnson would have participated “less than ten minutes” in this gathering of his collaborators.
PartyGate, worst crisis since its election
“Mistakes were made,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps admitted to Sky News. “It was the Prime Minister’s birthday: he had a cake earlier in the day – it’s the photo you see in the newspapers – and he had another one by his team when he returned to the office. These are members of his team with whom he works all day,” he tried to justify.
“I don’t think this is a party unlike other serious allegations that have been made and are under investigation,” Environment Secretary George Eustice also downplayed, as did the Tory MP. Peter Bone who judges that this gathering was not “a party”.
“There was 10 minutes there around sharing a piece of cake, I don’t think that constitutes a party…”
Environment Sec George Eustice has defended the latest report suggesting the PM held a birthday party inside Number 10 during the first lockdown.https://t.co/BDDBoBOQQkpic.twitter.com/W2NtjGGQ7E
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 24, 2022
Conservative MP Peter Bone defends the PM saying “I don’t recognise this as a party.”
“People probably talked about work” when they were eating their cake at the PM’s birthday party, he says.
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) January 24, 2022
ITV news indicates that friends of the Johnson family would have taken part in another event organized on the evening of June 19 on the floor of the residence of the Prime Minister, which his services have denied.
“That’s totally wrong. In accordance with the rules at the time, the Prime Minister welcomed a small number of his family outside that evening,” Downing Street said.
Implicated for a series of parties in Downing Street in full confinement, Boris Johnson, 57, is undergoing his worst crisis since his triumphant accession to power in the summer of 2019.
Johnson will ‘cooperate’ with police
Anger over the parties, which came as people were asked to drastically reduce their interactions, caused his popularity to plummet in opinion polls.
The head of government has so far escaped a vote of no confidence from his conservative camp and refers to the conclusions of the internal investigation carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray.
Former influential adviser to Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings refused to be interviewed as part of this investigation saying that if he accepted, “the Prime Minister would invent (have) absurd stories”. He preferred to testify in writing. Dominic Cummings, who has regularly launched attacks on his former leader since his departure at the end of 2020 amid infighting, has warned that “further damaging stories” will emerge if the Prime Minister does not step down.
The conclusions of Sue Gray’s report, which were expected this week, should however be published later than expected after the announcement of the opening of the investigation by the London police. Boris Johnson, through a spokesman, said he would “cooperate fully” with this police investigation.
See also on The HuffPost: Johnson Apologizes for Lockdown Downing Street Party