UK’s Johnson faces parliament over party scandal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced damning headlines Wednesday as he prepared to answer MPs’ questions over new claims he and his top officials breached Covid restrictions by holding a drinks party.

The embattled leader has been silent since an email was leaked late Monday that appeared to show a senior official inviting more than 100 colleagues to an outdoor event in May 2020 and encouraging them to “bring your own booze”.

Johnson and his wife Carrie allegedly attended the gathering in the garden of his Downing Street residence and office, according to anonymous witnesses quoted in the media.

It was held in the midst of the country’s first strict lockdown, when the government was ordering ordinary members of the public not to meet, even outdoors, and tight restrictions were in place on social mixing, including at funerals.

The claims are the latest in a string of similar accusations which emerged last month about Downing Street parties held during subsequent lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas in 2020.

Widespread public anger over the revelations has caused poll ratings for both Johnson and his ruling Conservatives to plummet and sparked calls for his resignation from opposition politicians.

The 57-year-old refused to comment as the latest scandal began to unfold Monday, but he will be quizzed by the Labour leader Keir Starmer and other lawmakers at weekly parliamentary questions at around noon (1200 GMT).

He has previously denied knowing whether any rules were broken in Downing Street, as he faced weeks of excoriating headlines before Christmas.

But the latest accusations appear to directly contradict those claims. 

Even the front pages of newspapers that normally back Johnson and the Tories were damning.

“Is the party over for PM?” asked the best-selling Daily Mail, while the Daily Telegraph’s headline said: “Johnson losing Tory support”.

“It’s my party and I’ll lie low if I want to,” mocked The Sun tabloid.

Johnson, elected by a landslide in December 2019, had hoped to start the new year afresh, leaving behind the previous revelations of lockdown-breaking Downing Street parties and claims of cronyism and corruption.

The prior allegations prompted him to appoint Sue Gray, another senior civil servant, to investigate. Her probe has now been widened to include the latest accusations.

Meanwhile, London’s Metropolitan Police have said they have been in contact with the Cabinet Office about the May 2020 gathering, raising the possibility of a more serious, criminal probe.

© Agence France-Presse

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse works from worldwide. AFP Photo's official Twitter account. Tweeting news and features from Agence France-Presse's global photo network Agence France Presse has over 120540 followers on Twitter.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Seven leadership laws for business success

Here are seven expert tips to help you become a better leader by investing time and energy into a healthy work culture

Sanbi projects help rural women manage the impacts of climate...

Empowering women and girls to be equal players and climate change decision-makers is critical

Smiso Nkwanyana: Remembering a student leader and activist

He died 19 years ago but his influence on shaping the political landscape of KwaZulu-Natal lives on

South Africa is in need of changes to its industrial...

Bold adjustments must be made to boost employment and diversify exports

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…