UK: Partygate – Johnson celebrated his birthday during lockdown

London. During the lockdown in the spring of 2020, Britons had to do without many nice things: going to the pub, meeting friends or browsing the bookstores. Birthday parties were especially missed.

After all, they are milestones in the lives of children and young adults, but also for people in nursing homes who may be partying there for the last time. But there were no exceptions, internal meetings were strictly prohibited at that time.

But what was law for the people of the kingdom appears not to apply to 10 Downing Street and not to Boris Johnson, as it became known on Tuesday. According to media reports, the Prime Minister celebrated his 56th birthday on June 20, 2020 with up to 30 guests in attendance. There should have been sandwiches and cake and they sang happy birthday to him.

Johnson’s Communication Strategy

It is another party that the Prime Minister claims he was not aware of at first and allegedly did not know that such celebrations were banned. The police have now launched the investigation under tremendous pressure from the public.

Downing Street on Tuesday did not deny that the Christmas gathering took place during the first shutdown, but did downplay it. In an official statement, the supposed surprise party was described as a brief meeting at the end of a work day. Environment Secretary George Eustis also wants to remember that there were only about ten employees, not about 30.

There is now talk of nearly 20 parties

What exactly happened should be clarified again by the investigations by Officer Sue Gray, who has now been researching nearly 20 parties in 10 Downing Street and other ministries for weeks. Its report was due to be published this week and has been eagerly awaited not only by the opposition and Johnson’s opponents – at least until Tuesday.

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As the report is on hold since the Metropolitan Police is now investigating the parties – over possible violations of coronavirus regulations, it was said. It is not known exactly what events the police are looking into and whether the authorities’ move has anything to do with the prime minister’s birthday party.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson said he was willing to be questioned by police but did not believe he broke the law. On Tuesday, it said Sue Gray would also assist with the investigation.

Two possible scenarios

Observers describe this as a critical turning point, making two possible developments for Boris Johnson more likely now. Either, some argue, Sue Gray’s delay in releasing the report will unwind the sails of some Conservative rebellion and the issue will be out of sight for some time — perhaps even months.

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Johnson’s closing parties: Scotland Yard investigating PM

Boris Johnson has been under tremendous pressure for weeks due to reports of alleged illegal parties at his official residence. © dpa

Or the police investigation will eventually undermine Johnson’s authority and will ultimately be the straw that broke the camel’s back. In both cases, according to experts, the fate of Boris Johnson lies in the hands of the Conservatives and whether they want to get rid of him permanently or not.

On the role of the former Johnson adviser

Whoever would certainly like to get rid of Boris Johnson is the former Brexit campaign adviser and architect Dominic Cummings. He fell out with the prime minister and resigned at the end of 2020. Since then, the controversial strategist has tried to discredit Johnson with ever new allegations.

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Dominic Cummings, Senior Adviser to British Prime Minister Johnson. © Quelle: Yui Mok / PA Wire / dpa

In the summer of last year, for example, he claimed that the now prime minister’s wife was trying to secure key positions in government for politicians he called “clowns”. In addition, he criticized government decisions during the pandemic: “Johnson has no plan.”

Recently, Cummings was said to have been largely responsible for the new party reveal in order to get rid of Johnson. Perhaps with success this time.

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