Johnson of UK faces test in Parliament over Lockdown party claim | Economic news

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a high-stakes confrontation in Parliament on Wednesday that could help defuse a crisis over allegations that he and his staff have broken coronavirus lockdown rules with parties illicit – or fan the flames even more.

Opponents and allies want Johnson to say if he attended a rally in May 2020, when Britain was under a strict lockdown imposed by Johnson to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Johnson has so far declined to comment on reports he was at the ‘bring your own booze’ meeting in the garden of his Downing Street residence.

An invitation to the “drinks at social distance” rally was emailed to around 100 people by a senior official of the Prime Minister. At the time, the law prohibited Britons from meeting more than one person outside their home.

Johnson’s lunchtime appearance at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons will be his first public appearance since party details were released. On Tuesday, a spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations, citing an ongoing investigation by a senior official, Sue Gray, into several alleged parts of government personnel.

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Johnson has previously said he hasn’t personally broken any lockdown rules, but his problems are growing.

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, said Johnson’s refusal to say whether he was in the May 2020 party was “astonishing”.

“People reflected on what was happening to them back then in May and a lot of people still mourn their loved ones who they couldn’t say goodbye to at the time, and think the prime minister was laughing and shaking. party is just unforgivable, ”she told the BBC.

Rayner said if Johnson had “lied to the British public, lied to Parliament and attended parties during the lockdown, then his position is untenable.”

The so-called “partygate” scandal has become the biggest crisis in Johnson’s two-and-a-half years in power. During the UK’s first lockdown, which began in March 2020 and lasted for over two months, almost all gatherings were banned. Millions of people have been cut off from friends and family, and even prevented from visiting dying relatives in hospitals.

So there was widespread anger at claims that Johnson’s Tory government flouted the rules it had imposed on the rest of the country by hosting garden parties, Christmas reunions and office quiz nights in Downing Street, which is both the home of the Prime Minister and his office.

Opposition politicians are calling for Johnson’s resignation. More worrying for the Prime Minister, many in his own party are increasingly concerned about Johnson’s judgment and leadership.

The Tories picked Johnson as their leader in 2019 for his upbeat demeanor and popular touch, a choice that seemed justified when he led the party to a big election victory in December of that year.

But support for the party is eroded by dissatisfaction with the lingering pandemic restrictions, which some conservatives see as draconian. He also faces concerns about his judgment after a series of allegations of financial and ethical misconduct against him and his government.

Conservatives have a habit of toppling leaders if they become a handicap – and a surprising recent loss in a by-election for a constituency the party has occupied for more than a century has heightened their nervousness.

Tory lawmaker Tobias Ellwood has said Johnson must apologize and “show some contrition” if he is to weather the storm.

“We can’t let it drift, that’s not an option,” he told Sky News.

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