U.S. & World News

Johnson under fire for “Partygate”

Pressure mounts on prime minister to resign for parties held during lockdown

By Sophie Boulter, World News Editor

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally apologized to Queen Elizabeth II on Friday after details emerged about a staff party held the night before Prince Philip’s funeral. As daily allegations continue to emerge regarding parties held by Johnson and his staff during lockdown, he faces growing pressure to resign. 

The most recent revelation in a string of scandals dubbed “Partygate” alleged that Johnson and his staff drank and danced most of the night before Philip’s funeral. Johnson apologized to the Queen, but Buckingham Palace officials have declined to comment.

“It’s deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No. 10 (Downing Street) has apologized to the palace for that,” a spokesman for Johnson said. 

Dr. Amy Whipple, Xavier’s history department chair, emphasized that the timing of the party was particularly unfortunate for Johnson.

“The picture of the Queen sitting alone at Prince Philip’s funeral was a pretty somber reminder of the rules that the rest of the country was following while a suitcase of alcohol was allegedly being wheeled to Downing Street,” Whipple said.

Other recent revelations about Johnson’s quarantine parties include a large BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) garden party hosted in May 2020 and a recurring “wine time Fridays” event held during the pandemic. 

Johnson refused to apologize for the garden party event, defending the party as a “work event.” 

He also asked the public to withhold judgment on the parties until the investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray concludes. This investigation is expected to continue until the end of the month. 

Members of Parliament (MPs) from Johnson’s Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party have called upon Johnson to resign before the results of Gray’s inquiry are released.

The most senior Conservative official calling for Johnson’s resignation is Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. 

“He is the prime minister. It is his government that put these rules in place, and he has to be held to account for his actions,” Ross said.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer also said that Johnson should resign. 

“The party’s over, prime minister… Will the British public kick him out, will his party kick him out or will he do the decent thing and resign?” Starmer said.

Other MPs argue that calling for Johnson’s resignation before Gray’s report is premature and have stood by the prime minister.

“PM was right to personally apologise earlier,” Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wrote on Twitter. “People are hurt and angry at what happened and he has taken full responsibility for that. The inquiry should now be allowed to do its work and establish the full facts of what happened.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, also defended Johnson. 

“During a two-and-a-half-year period, there will be things that with hindsight would have been done differently,” Rees-Mogg said.

According to a recent YouGov poll, 63% of British voters believe that Johnson should resign. However, only 40% of British voters who supported Johnson in the 2019 election believe that he should resign.

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