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Boris Johnson caught up again by “partygate”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Westminster Abbey in London on March 29, 2022.

Boris Johnson has not finished with the “partygate” scandal, overshadowed for a month by the war in Ukraine. The twenty fines distributed by the police in Greater London (Scotland Yard) on Tuesday, March 29, put this scandal of the parties organized in Downing Street in full confinement at the heart of British political news. The police have admittedly not said whether the Prime Minister has himself been fined – they are only on their first round of penalties, others are expected to follow. But the fact that she has established patent breaches of health rules at the heart of the National Executive worries Downing Street and gives renewed arguments to opposition parties.

Let’s remember the facts: following a series of media revelations, Scotland Yard announced in January that it was investigating 12 “events” that took place in Downing Street and Whitehall (the ministries) between May 2020 and April 2021, in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus, while the British were either confined or banned from gatherings of more than two or six people. Among the most documented events: a “booze party” was held in Downing Street Gardens on May 20, 2020, and another also very boozy party took place the day before Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021 Boris Johnson attended half a dozen of these rallies, but still claimed the 1er December 2021, in the House of Commons: “I was assured that the rules were not broken and that there were no parties. »

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“The Prime Minister said [à l’époque] his understanding of events., reacted a spokesman for Downing Street on Tuesday. As for recognizing that parties have indeed taken place despite the health rules, “It’s up to the police to draw conclusions, not the Prime Minister”, he added. Labour, the main opposition party, took the opportunity to renew its calls for resignation: ” Culture [au sein de Downing Street] comes from the top. It is the Prime Minister who is responsible, he is the one who spent months lying to his fellow citizens, that is why he must leave. It is shameful that Boris Johnson’s government acted as if the rules did not apply to him, when the rest of the country followed them,’ regretted Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader.

With the war, a bonus to the leader in place

Is Boris Johnson’s term in jeopardy again? Since the general elections are not scheduled before 2024, the danger for the leader, since the start of “partygate”, has come less from opposition parties than from his own camp. The Conservative Party has the possibility of tabling it, provided that at least a quarter of the Tory deputies in the House of Commons (54) demand a vote of confidence and that they win it. However, since the start of the war in Ukraine, the desire for change within the Tories has greatly diminished. Some, like Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, one of the first to dissociate himself from the Prime Minister and to ask for his departure, in January, even made it known that he was withdrawing his request for a vote of confidence.

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