© Reuters. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends the weekly Premier’s Questions in Parliament, London, UK, 12 January 2022 UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor / Handout via REUTERS
Authors Guy Faulconbridge and Kylie MacLellan
LONDON (Reuters) – The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized to Queen Elizabeth on Friday after staff were shown partying late into the night on Downing Street ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral, when indoor interference was banned.
Johnson is facing the biggest crisis of his term as prime minister after almost daily revelations of social gatherings during quarantine over COVID-19, some of which took place when ordinary people could not personally say goodbye to dying relatives.
As the poll showed that the opposition Labor Party leads by 10 points over Johnson’s Conservatives, the report said it encouraged staff to “let off steam” during regular “wine Friday” rallies.
After building a political career by violating accepted norms, Johnson is now under increasing pressure from some of his lawmakers to give up. Opponents say he is incapable of governing and has misled parliament by denying that COVID-19 guidelines have been violated.
In an extraordinary twist of the saga that was widely ridiculed by comedians and cartoonists, the Daily Telegraph reports that parties were held on Downing Street on April 16, 2021, the day before Prince Philip’s funeral.
“It is deeply sad that this happened at a time of national mourning and No. 10 (Downing Street) apologized to the palace,” a Johnson spokesman told reporters.
Johnson was at his village residence in Checkers that day and was not invited to any gathering, his spokesman said.
There was such joy in Downing Street, according to the Telegraph, that staff went to a nearby supermarket to buy a suitcase of alcohol, spilled wine on carpets and smashed a swing used by the prime minister’s son.
The next day, Queen Elizabeth bade farewell to Philip, her 73-year-old husband, after his death in 99.
Dressed in a black and white-bordered black face mask, 95-year-old Elizabeth cut out a touching figure as she sat alone, strictly following the rules of the coronavirus, during his funeral service at Windsor Castle.
‘LEAVE THE SCENE’
Opponents called on Johnson, 57, to resign, declaring him a charlatan who demanded that the British abide by some of the toughest rules in peacetime history while his staff partyed at the heart of the government.
A small but growing number in Johnson’s Conservative Party repeated those calls, fearing it would do permanent damage to their electoral prospects.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister’s position has become unsustainable,” said Conservative MP Andrew Brigen, a former Johnson supporter. – It’s time to leave the stage.
In its latest report on the rule violation, the Mirror newspaper said staff bought a large wine cooler for gatherings on Fridays, events Johnson regularly observed as he walked to his apartment building.
“If the prime minister tells you to ‘let off steam,’ he’s actually saying it’s okay,” one source was quoted as saying.
Separately, the former head of the government unit behind the COVID restrictions, Kate Josephs, apologized for her own gathering with a drink when she left work in December 2020.
Johnson gave a variety of explanations to the parties, ranging from denying that any rules had been violated to expressing understanding for the public’s outrage over the apparent hypocrisy at the heart of the British state.
The Independent reported that Johnson called the plan to save his prime minister’s position “Operation Save the Big Dog”.
Foreign Minister Liz Truss, who is considered a possible successor, said “real mistakes” had been made.
“We have to look at the overall position we are in as a state, the fact that he (Johnson) carried out Brexit, that we are recovering from COVID … He apologized.”
– I think we need to move on now.
To challenge the leadership challenge, 54 of the 360 conservative MPs have to write letters of no confidence to the 1922 party committee chairman.
The Telegraph states that as many as 30 such letters were delivered.
Johnson faces a difficult year: after COVID-19, inflation is rising, energy bills are rising, taxes will rise in April, and his party is facing local elections in May.
British police said Thursday they would not investigate gatherings held at Johnson’s residence during quarantine for coronavirus unless an internal government investigation finds evidence of potential crimes.