Storm warning for the British Prime Minister. In front of the deputies, Boris Johnson apologized this Wednesday, January 12 for an evening organized in his official residence at 10, Downing Street, in London, May 20, 2020. A photo of the event, revealed by the press the day before, had angered the British and elected officials. At this time, the country was under glass, confined in the midst of the first wave of Covid-19.
In his mea culpa, “BoJo” as he is nicknamed in the United Kingdom, said that it was just a simple work meeting and that the health rules had been respected. However, this defense had already been undermined by revelations from the British press. Because two days earlier, on Monday, the chain ITV unveiled an email sent by the Prime Minister’s secretary on the day of the event to around 100 guests. ” Bring your bottles “, says the message, calling for” enjoy the nice weather “. Faced with these revelations, Keir Starmer, leader of the Labor opposition, accused Boris Johnson of ” lie like a tooth-puller “. ” Will he now have the decency to resign? “, he also tackled.
Two days after the Prime Minister’s apology, the daily Daily Telegraph put a coin back in the machine. According to his information, another evening was organised, still in Downing Street and in full confinement, on April 16, 2021. It was then a farewell party for James Slack, the ex-spokesman of Boris Johnson .
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According to people interviewed by the newspaper, about thirty guests were present. A witness even claims that a member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet had to supply bottles of wine in the middle of the night. Coincidence of the calendar, this event took place the day before the funeral of prince Philip, the husband of the queen, who died on April 9, 2021. The country is then in full national mourning. The photos of Elizabeth II, alone in the front row of the church to respect the rules of social distancing, had then shown the harshness of the restrictions in force at the time in the United Kingdom.
This series of revelations about parties in Downing Street is not the first. A first salvo had already taken place on November 30. In one article, the Mirror, a tabloid, claimed that the prime minister had “ broke the confinement rules with Christmas parties » organized in 2020. According to the newspaper, on November 27, 2020, the Prime Minister would have first held a speech during the farewell party of one of his collaborators. Then, on December 18, members of his team threw a party, in BoJo’s absence, with a Christmas quiz and a giveaway. At that time, the country was crumbling under the second wave of Covid and all its inhabitants were confined.
The scandal reached a peak on December 7 with the publication, by ITV News, from a video of Allegra Stratton, Jonson’s publicist. She shows the preparations for a press conference on December 22, in case the press asks her questions about the evening of the 18. When a collaborator, who plays the role of a journalist, asks her ” would the Prime Minister approve of the organization of a Christmas party? “Stratton responds” what is the answer ? “. A second member of the cabinet then exclaims with a laugh: there was no party… just cheese and wine “.
After the publication of this video, Boris Jonson had to explain himself to parliamentarians on December 8. ” I apologize unreservedly for the bad impression. what gives the case, he said, thinking ” mad “because we would have him” assured several times that there had been no party. Ian Blackford, leader of the Scottish National Party, called for the resignation of the government which “ breaks his own Covid rules and then jokes in a video about it “.
Boris Jonson’s setbacks are not limited to the violation of health restrictions. At the end of April 2021, Dominic Cummings, his former chief of staff, published a blog post in which he damns the Prime Minister. The latter is accused of having had his Downing Street apartment renovated to the tune of 200,000 pounds. Problem: the law only supports 30,000 pounds of expenses per year.
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Did “BoJo” blow up the note? To defend himself, he claims to have personally paid for the renovation of Downing Street “. On the other hand, he did not dwell on the way in which he financed the work. According to some media, he would have had recourse to a loan, or a donation, which he would have repaid later. An illegal operation under British law.
Suspicions of favoritism
The BBC added his grain of salt on April 25 by revealing an SMS sent by James Dyson, founder of the household appliance brand of the same name. While his company had set up its headquarters in Singapore in 2019, the billionaire wanted to return to the United Kingdom to manufacture ventilators precisely when the pandemic broke out, in March 2020.
To avoid paying more tax due to a change in the company’s tax status if it returned to the UK, James Dyson sends a message to the Prime Minister. In the process, he replied, almost immediately: “ I will fix this problem “. Following the revelations, Labor MP Lucy Powell told the BBC : “ Frankly, it stinks that a billionaire businessman can text the Prime Minister and get an immediate response and, apparently, an immediate policy change. »
In the same vein, the British government is accused of having awarded a contract to Public First, a market research agency run by relatives of Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities . In June 2020, this agency received 560,000 pounds to study the way in which the population apprehends the pandemic and the measures put in place. Except that no call for tenders has been launched. On June 9, 2021, Finola O’Farrell, judge of the High Court in London, considered that ” the decision of June 5, 2020 to award the contract to Public First was illegal and is of apparent bias “. Despite this succession of controversies, the British Prime Minister held firm. For how much longer ?
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