British Prime Minister Johnson has become a threat
Calls are mounting for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step down over his involvement in a Downing Street party that broke the government’s own lockdown rules.
Under intense pressure, Johnson had previously remained silent since a leaked email emerged last week over the scandal and his lack of comment to confirm or deny the attendance has further infuriated opposition parties and the British public .
However, addressing Parliament for the first time on Wednesday afternoon in a weekly session which the Prime Minister was due to attend, Johnson admitted he had attended the party and apologized; although he said he thought it was “a work event”.
Recognizing the “rage [the public] feel with me and with the government” said the Prime Minister “with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside”.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s admission, main opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer called on Johnson to ‘do what is decent and resign’, describing his defense as ‘so ridiculous that it is in fact offensive to the British people”.
Starmer added that Johnson is a “pathetic sight of a man with no road left. The party is above the prime minister.”
He added: “When the Prime Minister’s former health secretary broke the rules he resigned and the Prime Minister said he was right to do so.
“When the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman laughed that the rules were being broken, she resigned and the Prime Minister accepted that resignation. Why does the Prime Minister still think the rules don’t apply to him ?”
Conservative Party MPs have also expressed anger at the Prime Minister’s failure to respond to the allegations so far.
Tory MP Roger Gale said the Prime Minister was on “very thin ice”, saying Johnson had misled Parliament and was politically a “walking dead man”.
Gale says “unfortunately what the Prime Minister said today leaves people like me in an impossible situation. We now know that the Prime Minister spent 25 minutes in what was clearly a party. This means that he misled the Chamber”.
He adds “I am afraid it is now the work of the 1922 [Committee] to determine precisely how we proceed. If you watch the Twittersphere after Prime Minister’s Question Time today, it seems to me that I’m very afraid that politically the Prime Minister is a walking dead man’.
It was then that the Metropolitan Police faced legal action for their failure to investigate the Downing Street Party scandal.
The Good Law Project said it had taken legal action over the police’s refusal to investigate Downing Street Party reports last year.
According to British media, the campaign group says the Metropolitan Police told them they had ‘relyed on assurances from the government that no rules had been broken’ and ‘there would not have been any useful to question the staff of number 10 on the parties because they would have refused to answer questions exposing them to the risk of prosecution”.
The Good Law Project hit back saying, “You can have the rule of law, or you can defer to the powerful. But you can’t have both.
The campaign group says the police “will know that several criminal offenses have been committed. It shames the Met, and ultimately all of us, that [the Met chief] refuses to investigate.”
Analysts say claims that the Metropolitan Police will ‘defer to the powerful’ will anger the British public.
Data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council shows police fined hundreds of people for breaking lockdown rules during Downing Street garden party week. From May 15 to May 21, 2020, 807 fixed penalty notices were issued in England and Wales.
The Metropolitan Police are facing further questions over whether their officers were aware of the rally when it took place and why they took no action at the time.
The Green Party highlighted how inconvenient the May 2020 party was for police forces saying that “this garden party raises big questions for the Met Police as surely their officers must have been monitoring this gathering via their cameras from safety and be aware of the rules in place at the time”
“The police are losing the public’s trust with their attitude that there are lots of rules for us and no rules for Tory ministers. Did Martin Reynolds consult Met police about Covid restrictions, or brief them on the event? added the party.
The fluid developments and outrage come following the leaking of an email from one of the Prime Minister’s senior officials inviting more than 100 Downing Street staff to a party during the first coronavirus lockdown.
Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner warned Johnson’s position was “completely untenable”, saying he “not only broke the rules, but lied to the British public”, adding that Johnson does not s was not yet introduced to explain his account of the event “shows the measure of man”.
The Liberal Democratic Party is calling for the prime minister to resign, saying he has “become a threat to the health of our nation”.
In a statement, party leader Ed Davey said: “Boris Johnson is now unable to lead our country through this public health crisis – I actually think he is a threat to the health of the nation because that no one will do what he says because he has now shown he has been deceitful so Boris Johnson must now resign”
“He told parliament and the country before Christmas when he apologized that he didn’t know the parties, and now we know he was at least one of those parties.”
“So he clearly lied, he broke the ministerial code, he broke the law, he misled Parliament – any Prime Minister in the past would resign for just one of these breaches.
“If he has an ounce of decency left, I think he should resign today.”
It was then that Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, when asked by British media about the Prime Minister’s resignation, Ross replied: “yes, because you can’t put these rules in place, you can’t be the leader of the government asking people to follow these rules and break them yourself.”
Lawyers say Johnson could be prosecuted as an ‘accomplice in crime’ if he is found to have attended a Downing Street party that broke the rules.
Meanwhile, in a sign that the British public is turning against their Prime Minister, for the first time, more than 50% of the public have called on Johnson to step down.
A YouGov poll showed 56% of those polled thought Mr Johnson should quit over the new allegations, with 27% saying he should stay.
That’s when research by Savanta ComRes found that 66% of British adults thought he should quit as prime minister, with 24% saying he should stay.
Given the similar results, it’s harder to underestimate the potential significance of Savanta ComRes’ latest snapshot survey.
This indicates that two-thirds of the population believe Boris Johnson should resign over the scandal.
But perhaps more importantly, 42% of Conservative voters also think he should quit. The Prime Minister has become an electoral handicap for the ruling party.
The double standard of government rules can be highlighted by the campaign group ‘COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice’, which wrote to Johnson urging him to ‘do the right thing’ and apologize for attending the Downing Street garden party.
The letter was signed by Hannah Brady, who said her father’s death certificate was being signed on the day of the Number 10 rally.
He said: “It is now clear that while my father’s death certificate was being signed and my younger sister and I wept alone, dozens of people were gathered, holding a bottle they had been asked to bring, in the same place you told me you did everything you could”
“You can only imagine the pain, anguish and anger this news has brought me and those of us who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. To make matters worse, when we asked you about this event, you laughed, smiled and seemed to treat it like a big joke.”