New details show the extent of the parties in the British seat of government in the middle of the corona lockdown. Calls for Johnson’s resignation are getting louder. Citizens vent their anger in a special way.
Boris Johnson’s “Partygate” affair is making waves: new allegations of breaking corona rules in his seat of government are putting even more pressure on the British prime minister. The population makes Johnson feel their displeasure – in a special way.
In a video circulating on Twitter, more than a dozen people have gathered wearing a cardboard mask with Johnson’s face and his usual outfit: suit and tie. In an allusion to the lockdown parties in the British seat of government, the masked people dance and sing: “My name is Boris and I like to party”, in German: “My name is Boris and I like to party.”
The video was shared on Twitter with the hashtag #JohnsonPartiedWhilePeopleDied.
There were further developments in the scandal on Saturday morning: According to a report by the British “Mirror”, there were not only isolated but regular meetings in Downing Street during the pandemic where alcohol was drunk.
Johnson’s employees met every Friday for “Wine-time Fridays”. The “wine season” was noted in the online calendars of around 50 British government employees. The newspaper published a photo purporting to show a wine fridge purchased specifically for the after-hours ritual – and having it delivered through a back door of Downing Street in December 2020.
The Prime Minister encouraged staff to “let off steam” – although indoor meetings had been strictly forbidden under lockdown rules. The head of government had visited these meetings several times himself. The Mirror quoted a source as saying: “The idea that he didn’t know there was drinking is utter nonsense.”
According to “Mirror”, Friday meetings have long been a “Downing Street tradition”, including under previous British governments. However, the meetings continued even after corona restrictions were imposed.
At least five MPs from Johnson’s Conservative Party called for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. MPs, many of whom are spending the weekend in their home constituencies, said they were showered with news from outraged voters over the reports.
So far, most members of the government have supported Johnson. However, the corresponding statements by some ministers, including Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, were extremely cautious. Pensions Secretary Guy Opperman backtracked, saying Johnson must “change his approach.”
British opposition leader Keir Starmer denied the prime minister’s ability to govern as the “Partygate” affair escalated. It is now in the “national interest” for Johnson to resign, the leader of the opposition Labor Party said at a conference in London on Saturday. He called on the prime minister’s conservative Tory party to do what was necessary and get rid of Johnson.
“What we have now is a situation where you have a prime minister who has lost the moral authority to lead,” Starmer said. This authority is needed right now in the pandemic. Britain faces other major challenges – and Johnson is “absent” and in hiding, according to the Labor leader.
A government spokesman declined to comment on the newspaper report. According to him, the government wants to wait for an investigation by the official Sue Gray, who will compile the “facts” about meetings during the corona pandemic. Gray could present her report next week.
It was recently reported that there were celebrations at the seat of government on the eve of Queen Consort Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021. At that time, strict contact and distance rules applied.
Queen Elizabeth II therefore had to sit all alone in the chapel of her Windsor residence when her husband was buried. Downing Street apologized for this. “It is deeply unfortunate that this has taken place at a time of national mourning,” said a spokesman for Johnson.