Downing Street apologises to Queen for party on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral

Boris JohnsonThe royal family’s office has apologized for holding a party for staff in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last year – the latest in a string of rallies allegedly breaching the lockdown that threatens to bring down British first Minister.
Johnson’s farewell party, with late-night drinking and dancing, took place on April 16, 2021, the night before Queen Elizabeth sat alone at her husband’s funeral due to social distancing rules in place to slow the spread of the disease. subordinate Corona Virus.

Johnson’s spokesman, Jimmy Davis, said the government had acknowledged the party had caused “significant public outrage”.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II sits alone in St George’s Chapel during the funeral of Prince Philip, the man who has been by her side for 73 years, in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, Saturday, April 17, 2021. Prince Philip died on April 9 at the age of 99 after 73 A year of marriage to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. (Jonathan Brady/Paul via AP) (AFP)

“It is very unfortunate that this happened at a time of national mourning and Number 10 has apologized to the palace,” he said, using the term for the 10th Downing Street prime minister’s office.

Johnson’s former communications director, James Slack, said the party “shouldn’t have happened when it happened.”

“I hope to apologize unreservedly for the outrage and the hurt I have caused,” Slack said in a statement.

“I am deeply sorry, and I take full responsibility,” added Slack, who left government last year and is now the tabloid’s deputy editor-in-chief. the sun.

Johnson was not alleged to have attended the departure party, which was revealed by the UK Daily Telegraph Newspaper. Earlier this week, he apologized for going to a gathering in Downing Street park, office and home, in May 2020, when the UK was under strict lockdown.

Boris Johnson's approval has fallen sharply in the past few months.
Boris Johnson’s approval has fallen sharply in the past few months. (GT)

The latter party appalled many in Britain because of the symbolism of its timing. The Daily Telegraph said Downing Street employees were drinking, dancing and socializing when leaving parties to Slack and another employee late at night. The next day, the widowed Queen sat alone in the chapel during her husband’s funeral at Windsor Castle in order to adhere to social distancing rules that prohibit mixing inside the home.

Images of the king, dressed in black and wearing a face mask, have become a powerful portrait of the isolation and sacrifice that many have endured during the pandemic.

Johnson’s Conservative cabinet members expressed their support for the prime minister after he admitted on Wednesday that he attended the “Bring Your Wine” party in the garden of his Downing Street office in May 2020.

At the time, people in Britain were prohibited by law from meeting more than one person outside their homes as part of measures to limit the spread of the Corona virus. Millions have been cut off from family and friends and even prevented from visiting dying relatives in hospitals.

Many conservatives fear the “Party Door” scandal could become a turning point for a leader who weathered a series of storms over his spending and moral judgment.

Nurses from nearby St Thomas’ Hospital rest at the National Covid Memorial Wall in London, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denied a press report saying he would prefer to see bodies piled up high. Thousands of them are imposing a third national lockdown on the country. The Daily Mail claimed Johnson made the comment in the fall of 2020, when his government imposed a second lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus cases. (AFP (AFP)

The latest revelations are likely to prompt more Conservatives to join the opposition and demand Johnson’s resignation for violating government-imposed rules as the coronavirus spreads in the UK.

In a sign of growing anger in the party ranks, the Conservative Assembly in the powerful Tory district of Sutton Coldfield, central England, voted unanimously Thursday night to withdraw its support from Johnson.

“Culture starts at the top, right?” Simon Ward, a Conservative Alderman said. “And that is the really disappointing point.

“We have been asking people across our country to make huge sacrifices, from the people in the Sutton Coldfield countryside to make huge sacrifices, for the past two years. I think we have a right to expect everyone in government and in those leadership positions to follow those same rules and guidelines for those sacrifices.” like that “.

In his apology on Wednesday, Johnson said he understood the public “outrage”, but did not admit wrongdoing, saying he considered the rally a work event to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Boris Johnson greet guests at Windsor Castle. (GT)

Johnson urged people to wait for the results of an investigation by senior government employee Sue Gray into several alleged rules-breaking parties by government employees during the pandemic. Gray, a respected civil servant who investigated past allegations of ministerial wrongdoing, is expected to submit a report by the end of the month.

The government says Gray’s investigation is independent, but she is a civil servant and Johnson is ultimately her boss. Gray could conclude that Johnson violated the code of conduct for government ministers, even though she does not have the power to fire him. Johnson didn’t say what he would do if she found out he was wrong.

Johnson does not have to face voter judgment until the next general election, scheduled for 2024. But his party may seek to oust him sooner if it sees himself getting fat.

Under Conservative rules, a vote of no-confidence can be held for a leader if 15 percent of party MPs write letters demanding it.

Roger Gill, a Tory lawmaker who has long been a critic of Johnson, said he had already given a speech calling for a leadership challenge.

“I think minds are now, over the weekend, focused on the need to take action,” he said. “I obviously don’t know, and shouldn’t, how many of my colleagues have written letters…but I think there is some momentum building.”

Secretary of State Liz Truss – often referred to as a potential successor to Johnson – said she understood “people’s anger and resentment” at the party’s revelations.

But, she said, “I think now we need to move on.”

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