U.K. politicans supporting embattled Boris Johnson for now

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LONDON (AP) – With varying enthusiasm, senior British government ministers on Thursday expressed support for conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and demands to resign for attending a garden party during the country’s first coronavirus lockdown. rejected.

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Many other conservatives held their tongues, waiting to see if the crisis threatening Johnson’s premiership would fade or intensify.

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Johnson apologized in the House of Commons for attending a “bring your own wine” party in the garden of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street office and residence in May 2020. About 100 employees were invited to the bill by a senior prime ministerial aide. As a “socially distanced drink” phenomenon.

At that time Britons were banned by law from meeting more than one person outside their homes as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Millions were cut off from family and friends, and even barred from visiting relatives who died in hospitals.

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Johnson said he understood the public’s “anger” but refrained from admitting wrongdoing, adding that he considered assembling a work program to thank employees for their efforts during the pandemic Was.

Johnson urged people to await the conclusion of an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray into several alleged parties by government employees during the pandemic. Gray, a public service veteran with a reputation as a straight-shooter, is expected to report by the end of the month.

Johnson was holidaying in Downing Street on Thursday. The Prime Minister’s Office said a planned visit to the coronavirus vaccination center was called off after a family member tested positive for coronavirus.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said Johnson’s apology was “very, very sincere” – but added that the prime minister did not believe he had done anything wrong.

“The prime minister has underlined that he does not believe he has done anything outside the rules,” Lewis told Sky News. “If that’s what you find in the investigation, at that point people will be able to have their views on that.”

Gray does not have the power to punish officers, and Johnson did not say what he would do if he found she was at fault.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – often cited as a possible successor to Johnson – tweeted: “I stand 100% behind the Prime Minister as he takes our country forward.”
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, another potential rival for the top post, was more muted.

“The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray continues her investigation,” he tweeted. Sunak was notably absent from the House of Commons during Johnson’s statement on Wednesday; He was 200 miles (320 km) away on his journey to south-west England.

Opposition politicians say Johnson should resign over his past denial of joining the party and any rule-breaking.

Many conservatives fear the “Partygate” scandal could become a turning point for a leader who has weathered a series of other storms over his expenses and his moral judgment.

Some have joined opposition calls for Johnson to step down. Douglas Ross, the Conservative leader in Scotland, said Johnson’s position was “no longer valid.” Lawmaker Roger Gale called the prime minister a “walking dead man”.

If he does not resign, Johnson could be kicked out of a no-confidence vote among party legislators, which will begin when 15% of Conservative lawmakers write letters demanding it. It is not clear how many letters have already been submitted.
Labor Party Home Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Nandy said the police, not just a civil servant, should investigate.

“It is strange that given the many evidences about what is happening in Downing Street, the police have not launched any comprehensive investigation,” she said.

Nandi said the public is “extremely” angry over the party’s disclosures.

“Based on what I see in my inbox this morning, I think the prime minister should not be confident that he will survive this,” she said.

Many conservatives waited to see how the crisis response develops in the coming days.

Conservative MP Philip Dunne said the allegations were “very serious”.
“I think the prime minister was absolutely right to apologize yesterday, and I think it’s right that we wait to see what the Sue Gray investigation establishes,” he told Times Radio. “Then whatever happens, people will have to bear the consequences.”

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