The noose is tightening on Boris Johnson: the police have seized on the “Partygate” scandal and have opened an investigation into several parties in Downing Street during confinement, which risks costing the British Prime Minister his post.
London Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick announced on Tuesday that her officers are currently investigating a number of “events” at Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s residence, and Whitehall, the street home to the senior administration, over ” potential violations of the rules related to Covid-19″.
The Met had until then been criticized for its silence regarding the revelations that have followed one another in recent weeks on garden parties, farewell parties or birthday parties held at the highest level of power and which have upset the British, forced by law to time to drastically restrict their contacts.
In front of the deputies, Boris Johnson welcomed this investigation, believing that “it will give the public the clarity it needs and help to put these questions behind us”.
His spokesman had previously assured that he would “fully cooperate” in these investigations. “The Prime Minister is fully aware of the anger and concern of the public,” he said, adding that “he has taken responsibility for any misjudgments.”
The 57-year-old leader is going through his worst crisis since his triumphant accession to power in the summer of 2019, with popularity plummeting and MPs from his majority who openly say they want to dislodge him.
If this investigation promises to be fraught with risks for the Prime Minister, it makes less immediate the threat of the internal investigation already carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray and which was to be published this week. If this procedure continues, it suspends its investigations on the subjects on which the police are looking.
Its conclusions, expected by many elected Conservatives to decide whether or not to dislodge Boris Johnson, are therefore rejected indefinitely. It takes 54 Conservative MPs to trigger a vote of no confidence.
– “Brief” birthday party –
The anger aroused by these parties caused a fall in the Prime Minister’s popularity.
Criticized for this scandal and for his management of the health crisis, the Prime Minister is clinging to his post for the moment. He announced the lifting of the last Covid-related restrictions from Thursday, hoping to regain popularity in a country subject to long confinements and deeply bereaved by the pandemic which has killed nearly 154,000 people there.
On January 12, Boris Johnson had made his mea culpa in front of the deputies, apologizing for his participation on May 20, 2020 in an event in the gardens of his official residence, assuring that he thought he was respecting the rules.
But the flood of revelations continues. Latest: the organization of a party organized by his future wife Carrie in the hall of the council of ministers on the occasion of his birthday on June 19, 2020 afternoon, during the first confinement.
Up to 30 people attended, according to ITV, including interior designer Lulu Lytle, who was tasked with carrying out the costly renovation of Boris Johnson’s controversially funded Downing Street flat.
Downing Street admits a “brief rally”, with a spokeswoman saying Boris Johnson attended “less than ten minutes”.
Faced with the steady stream of accusations, the opposition renewed its calls for the resignation.
Labor Party leader Keir Starmer has lashed out at “a Prime Minister who believes his rules do not apply to him”.
A March 2020 letter from Boris Johnson congratulating a seven-year-old girl for canceling her birthday party and setting a “fantastic example” to Britons fueled accusations of hypocrisy.
Queen Elizabeth II herself had celebrated her 94th birthday in discretion, on April 21, 2020, without her family.
The chairman of the parliamentary committee responsible for the rules, Lord Evans, stressed on Tuesday the risk of paying a “significant political price” if they were not respected.