Boris Johnson’s ‘cheeky chappy’ approach to managing political crises is failing Brexit leader Farage said, as Tory support for the Prime Minister begins to seriously wane amid the growing lockdown-busting party scandal.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure from all sides over the most recent allegations regarding lockdown breaking gatherings at Downing Street in 2020.
While seemingly having managed to survive previous iterations of the controversy, a recently leaked email inviting those in Downing Street to come to a “bring your own booze” garden gathering in 2020 has proven more difficult to dismiss for the Prime Minister.
According to a report from The Telegraph, a number of Conservative party politicians have now warned that Johnson must resign his position as PM if it is the case that he broke lockdown rules.
“You cannot put in place these rules, you cannot be the head of the Government that is asking people to follow these rules and then breaking those rules yourself,” said Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party.
“If the Prime Minister has misled parliament, then he must resign,” Ross meanwhile told Sky News.
He’s Sorry Now! Boris Johnson Apologizes for Joining Lockdown Garden Party https://t.co/yPpZptuuiS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 12, 2022
"I want to apologise. I know that millions of people have made extraordinary sacrifices"
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 12, 2022
Mr Johnson apologised in the Commons Chamber Wednesday afternoon, saying he believed when he met with colleagues in the garden of Downing Street he didn’t realise it was a party and thought it was a work meeting. Remarking that he didn’t support the claims that rules had been broken, nevertheless the Prime Minister accepted that: “I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who would not see it that way.”
Despite the apology, it is not clear that Johnson’s words will be enough to rebuild trust. A number of Conservatives and British political actors have expressed concern over Johnson’s continued leadership.
“If the inquiry or the Metropolitan Police find that the alleged activities were illegal and that the PM knew this, or was involved, then I think he should consider his position,” said Derek Thomas MP
“I can’t see how anybody who organised a party or willingly chose to attend one can stay in any position where they’re setting COVID policy,” said Nigel Mills, another Tory party MP.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has demanded Boris Johnson 'just answer the question' about whether he attended an alleged 'bring your own booze' event in Downing Street in May 2020.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 11, 2022
Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage has also criticised the PM’s handling of the crisis, as well as Johnson’s general relationship with the truth.
“That cheeky chappy approach just isn’t working anymore,” Farage said in a video posted online before the Prime Minister’s qualified apology on Wednesday, continuing: “From the start of party-gate Boris has been evasive, but [with] this one… they’re bang to rights,”
“I don’t believe Boris Johnson can survive the year because I think the party will get a mauling in the May local elections in England,” the Brexit leader said.
Labour has also mounted pressure on Johnson to resign, with the left-wing party’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, saying that, if it is the case that Johnson broke lockdown rules, his position is “untenable”.
“The prime minister cannot break the law, lie to the British public and not be held to account for that,” the BBC reports Rayner as saying.
Boris Govt Facing Potential Police Probe and Political Disaster Over Lockdown Breaking Boozy Bashhttps://t.co/nLRKHB3ZSa
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 11, 2022
While the Johnson administration has been under sustained fire during the past number of months over alleged lockdown breaking gatherings that may have occurred in Downing Street, this recent controversy seems to be posing the most serious threat to the Johnson premiership.
Sparked by a leaked email published by British broadcaster ITV, the scandal involves accusations that Johnson knew about an alleged lockdown breaking gathering organised by his private secretary Martin Reynolds.
“After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening,” read Reynolds email, asking people to attend the gathering.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!” the email continued.
According to the broadcaster, around 40 staff, along with the Prime Minister and his now-wife, attended the gathering, despite government advice at the time being that Britons should not meet more than one other person from a different household, and should do so in an outdoor, public place while remaining two metres apart from said person.
Johnson is now facing a potential police probe over the issue, with the London Met saying that it is in contact with the Cabinet Office regarding the allegations.