The news coming out of the British Parliament and 10 Downing Street is starting to sound like a broken record. Granted, much of the attention is still focused on Ukraine, as it is around most of the world today. But many members of Parliament, including a few in the Prime Minister’s own Conservative Party, are still raising the issue of Partygate, as it’s known. Having returned from the two-week Easter break and learning that BoJo had been fined 50 pounds (66 dollars) for one incident that the police had investigated, some MPs were back to calling for Johnson to either resign or at least address the matter. He dutifully appeared and offered everyone once again what he described as a “wholehearted” apology. But keeping with his previous statements, he couldn’t help but follow that up with an explanation instead of letting the matter rest. (Associated Press)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday offered what he said was a ”wholehearted” apology for attending an illegal party during lockdown — but insisted he didn’t knowingly break rules or mislead Parliament, and brushed off calls to resign…
Last week, Johnson was fined 50 pounds ($66) for attending his own surprise birthday party in 10 Downing St. in June 2020, making him the first British prime minister ever found to have broken the law while in office.
Speaking as the House of Commons returned from an 11-day Easter break, Johnson acknowledged people’s “hurt and anger,” but added that “it did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the Cabinet Room, just before a vital meeting on COVID strategy, could amount to a breach of the rules.”
Johnson can’t seem to deliver an apology without attaching a “but” in the middle of it. In this case, he apologized but felt compelled to add that it “did not occur to me” that the event in question was a party. On the one hand, as his Labour opponents were quick to point out, there were invitations and a cake, so it should have been obvious that it was a birthday party.
But it’s possible that Johnson may have a point, at least in this one instance. Unlike the “drinks parties” and the “bring your own” wine events, this gathering took place outside of the main meeting chamber right before a scheduled meeting to discuss additional COVID strategies. The guest of honor and apparently all of the other attendees were people who were preparing to head into the meeting. So it sounds like it was more of a nice surprise for a coworker than some sort of extracurricular organized celebration.
Of course, writing off those other events that have been investigated and confirmed will be a bit tougher. When the Prime minister is quaffing drinks while hosting a trivia game for the staff, that looks and smells like something that’s definitely more of a party. Still, John remains undaunted and continues to disregard calls for his resignation. One of the next steps being considered is a possible vote in Parliament to censure him over the recent fine, but it’s not certain that there will be enough votes to do even that.
The police seem to be stretching this out as long as possible, much to the delight of the Labour Party. Rather than investigating the entire string of alleged incidents, they seem to be investigating one party at a time and fining him. This could lead to a lot of apologies and a lot of bad headlines ahead of the upcoming elections in May. But if no new allegations emerge and they run out of party allegations to investigate, BoJo may just prove able to ride out this storm and continue in office.