Boris Johnson has won a reprieve. His ministers have expressed support for the Conservative Prime Minister, in effect rejecting demands that he should resign for attending a garden party during Britain’s first lockdown in May 2020. Many other Conservatives have reserved judgment on the issue; they are waiting to see whether the crisis fades or intensifies.
The Prime Minister apologized in the House of Commons on Wednesday for attending what they call a “bring your own booze” party in the garden of 10 Downing Street. It was described as a “socially distancing drinks event’’ to which at least 100 members of the staff were invited. At that point of time, people were banned by law from meeting more than one person outside their households. Quite clearly therefore, Mr Johnson would appear to have breached the law. While he has stopped short of admitting wrongdoing, the Prime Minister said that he “understood the public rage” not the least because the pandemic was then at its peak. He has urged the people to await the conclusion of an investigation into several alleged parties by government staff during the lockdown.
Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, said Mr Johnson’s apology was “very sincere”; but he hastened to add that the PM did not believe he had done anything wrong. “If you look at what the investigation finds, people will be able to take their own view of that at the time.” The Treasury chief, Rishi Sunak, a potential rival for the PM’s office, tweeted, ”I stand behind the PM hundred per cent as he takes our country forward. The PM was right to apologise and I do support his request for patience while Sue Gray, a public service veteran with a reputation as a straight-shooter, carries out her enquiry.”
The opposition in Britain appears to be unanimous in their demand for Mr Johnson’s resignation for having attended the party and for his stout denial that any breach of rules had happened in the lawns of 10 Downing Street. Many Conservatives fear that what they call the “partygate scandal” could become a tipping point for the head of government who has countenanced a series of other storms over Brexit, over his expenses and his moral judgment. Some have even joined the Opposition shrill for Mr Johnson to quit. Douglas Ross, the leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, believes that the Prime Minister’s position is no longer “tenable”.
Lawmaker Roger Gale called the Prime Minister a “dead man walking”, and party colleague Caroline Nokes debunked the PM as one who “looks like a liability”. Thus far, the Prime Minister of Britain has shown no signs that he plans to resign. Self-reflection is not rated as one of his priorities. But there is no question that the scandal has caused wounds whose scars will remain.