Boris Johnson’s leadership under pressure over the Partygate controversy

Boris Johnson will face lawmakers in the afternoon, who are battling to defend their premiership over allegations of a “bring your own wine” party in the No. 10 garden in clear violation of COVID lockdown rules.

That prime minister will make his first public appearance since an email from his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, leaked on Monday, inviting Downing Street employees to “make the most of the beautiful weather” in May 2020.

The revelations triggered a new wave of public anger following reports last year of parties leading up to Christmas 2020, with Tory lawmakers openly warning Mr Johnson that his position would be untenable if he is shown lying .

Mr Johnson declined to say whether he was present at the May event, despite reports that he and his fiancée (now wife), Carrie Symonds, were among the nearly 30 people involved when such gatherings were banned. went.


Boris Johnson followed by his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds (UE Mok/PA)

The prime minister has said this is the case for senior civil servant Sue Grey, who is investigating a series of reported parties in Downing Street and Whitehall during 2020 to determine what had happened. .

However, Conservative lawmakers warned that such a situation was only untenable as Mr Johnson should have known whether he had been in “socially distanced drinks” on 20 May 2020.

Hugh Merriman, chairman of the Commons Transport Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that “more clarity is needed because we are back where we were a month before the investigation was set up where people were asking for answers”.

“We are all in the dark – and that includes me,” he said.

But he suggested that the prime minister would not need to resign over the issue, as “we see people in the round as far as I am concerned”, given his entire record.

Backbencher Nigel Mills warned that any senior person who voluntarily joined the program cannot have a position where they are responsible for setting a COVID-19 policy.

“It’s totally unsustainable, we’ve seen people resign for much less than that. If the prime minister deliberately joins a party, I can’t see how he can survive,” he told BBC told.

“I don’t think we need an inquiry to find out whether the Prime Minister was there or not. He knows whether he was there or not. Just come out and tell me what happened.

“If he was there it would have been better to fully apologize and see if the country would buy it but I’m not sure they will.”

His comments echoed those of the Scottish Tories leader, Douglas Ross, who called on the prime minister to come clean about whether he had attended the event and warned again if Johnson was found to have misled Parliament. So they can’t go to No. 10.

Backbencher Neil Hudson said he was “shocked and shocked” by the reports, adding that “if the rules are broken there must be absolutely dire consequences”.

Senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said Mr Johnson “should show some remorse”.

The chairman of the Commons Defense Committee told Sky News: “I urge the Prime Minister to act now, to apologize for No. 10’s poor decision, to show some remorse and to commit to responding appropriately to Sue Grey’s findings.” .

“We can’t let things flow, it’s not an option.”

No ministers were on the airwaves on Wednesday morning to answer questions about the partygate row in a sign of panic about the situation in Downing Street.

But the Commons Chamber is expected to be packed with questions from the prime minister as MPs want to see if he can turn into a dangerous situation quickly.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions, will face Mr Johnson after negative Covid-19 tests freed him from self-isolation.


Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer will be out of Covid self-isolation to face Boris Johnson (Jacob King/PA)

In a sign of the opposition’s line of attack, Deputy Labor leader Angela Rainer told TODAY: “People are thinking about what happened to them in May and many people are still grieving their loved ones who They weren’t able to say goodbye to that time, and to think that the prime minister was laughing and partying is unforgivable.”

Ms Rainer asked whether she thinks the number 10 garden constitutes a workplace – meaning the prime minister and his staff may have a defense to live there – added: “Many key workers in the NHS There are employees who were working very heavy shifts, 12 hour shifts with full PPE – they didn’t enter the garden with cheese and wine and the ‘bring your own wine’ landscape.

“They were working incredibly hard, watching people’s loved ones die, holding smartphones and iPads in front of them to say goodbye to their loved ones – it’s not acceptable to say: ‘It’s a workplace garden. ‘It was a really nice day, so we all chuckled wide open’.

“At that time many people understood the rules, and the rules were very clear.”

With the public mood increasingly angry, two snap polls found a majority now believed Mr Johnson should stand in as prime minister.

A study by Savanta Comers found that 66% of British adults thought they should leave, 24% said they should stay, while a YouGov survey for Sky News found that 56% believed they should leave, 27% said they should stay.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard has said it is in contact with the Cabinet Office about the latest allegation.

As a result, if evidence of a criminal offense emerges and the Metropolitan Police decides to launch an investigation, Ms. Gray’s investigation may be halted.