UK PM defies calls to quit over ‘Partygate’

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised but defied calls to quit after a critical report into lockdown-breaking parties at his Downing Street office

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defiantly rejected calls to resign after an internal inquiry Wednesday found he presided over a culture of lockdown-breaking parties that ran late into the night and even featured a drunken fight among staff.

Johnson is among dozens of people in Downing Street to have received police fines for breaching Covid regulations — making Number 10 the most penalised address in Britain.

“That does not mean that I don’t accept responsibility for the totality of what happened and, yes, I bitterly regret it,” he noted.

– ‘Pack his bags’ –

Johnson argued he was absent from most of the events probed, and denied ever lying to lawmakers or urging Gray privately to bury her 37-page report.

“You cannot be a lawmaker and a law-breaker,” Labour leader Keir Starmer told Johnson.

– ‘Responsibility’ –

“Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen,” Gray wrote, revealing that Downing Street security and cleaning staff were mocked when they tried to protest at the staff conduct.

“The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture,” Gray added, noting the painful sacrifices made by the UK public to respect the rules set by Johnson’s government.

“It didn’t occur to me that this was anything except what I think was my duty to do as prime minister during a pandemic and that’s why I did it,” he told reporters.

Opinion polls indicated deep public disapproval, with a snap survey Wednesday finding three in five people think Johnson should resign and three-quarters that he knowingly lied about “Partygate”.

One senior Tory, Tobias Ellwood, was one of a few Conservatives to reiterate demands for Johnson to go, warning his colleagues that the party could lose the next general election due by 2024.

– ‘Wine-Time Friday’ –

She also showed senior officials discussing how to handle various invitations.

Gray said the party went ahead, lasting hours.

In another exchange following a garden party in May 2020 where senior official Martin Reynolds invited staff to “bring your own booze”, Reynolds told an unnamed colleague that the media were focused on an unspecified “non-story”.

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Originally published as UK PM defies calls to quit over ‘Partygate’


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