Thursday, September 28

UK government holds its breath as it awaits ‘partygate’ report – NewsNation Now

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, January 25, 2022. London Police say they are investigating Downing Street’s 2020 closing parties to determine if government officials in the UK violated coronavirus restrictions. Tuesday’s announcement puts more pressure on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson is bracing for the findings of an investigation into allegations of parties violating lockdowns, a document that could help end weeks of scandal and unrest, or abruptly end his term.

Senior official Sue Gray could deliver her report to the government as early as Wednesday. Johnson’s office has promised to publish its findings, and the prime minister will address Parliament about it soon after.

Gray’s office had no comment at the time and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the report had not yet been received by the Conservative government as of Wednesday morning.

“I hope we don’t have to wait much longer,” he told the BBC.

Truss said she could not guarantee the government would publish the full report, saying there could be “security issues that mean parts of it are problematic to publish. But we absolutely will publish the report’s findings.”

Accusations that the prime minister and his team flouted restrictions placed on the country to curb the spread of the coronavirus have sparked public anger, prompted some Conservative lawmakers to call for Johnson to resign and sparked intense infighting within the ruling party. .

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Wednesday’s headlines provided more bad news for Johnson, whose popularity in opinion polls has plummeted amid the scandal. The Guardian’s front-page headline spoke of “PM in danger”, while the left-leaning Daily Mirror said bluntly: “Number’s up, Prime Minister”. The center-right Daily Mail disagreed, declaring Britain “a nation that has lost all sense of proportion.”

Johnson has urged his critics to wait for Gray’s conclusions, but his “wait and see” defense was weakened Tuesday when police said they had opened a criminal investigation into some of the meetings.

London’s Metropolitan Police force said “a number of events” at Johnson’s Downing Street office and other government buildings met the force’s criteria for investigating the “most serious and flagrant” breaches of coronavirus rules. .

Gray is investigating claims that government staff held late nights, booze parties and “wine Fridays” while Britain was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

The “party” accusations have angered many in Britain, who have been banned from gathering with friends and family for months in 2020 and 2021 to slow the spread of COVID-19. Tens of thousands of people were fined by the police for breaking the rules.

Johnson and his allies have tried, without much success, to defuse a scandal that is draining government energy that could be better spent addressing the international crisis over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and a coronavirus pandemic that is not over yet.

Johnson apologized for attending one event, a “bring your own drink” gathering in the garden of his Downing Street offices in May 2020, but said he had regarded the party as a business gathering that abided by the rules. .

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His office and supporters have also championed a surprise birthday party in June 2020 for the prime minister inside Downing Street.

Legislator loyalist Conor Burns said Johnson did not know about the meeting in advance.

“It was not a premeditated, organized party… In a sense, he was ambushed with a cake,” Burns told Channel 4 News.

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