The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office apologized to Queen Elizabeth II after the British press revealed that the night before the funeral of Prince Felipe, in April 2021, two parties were held for the staff of the Executive residence. This new leak about the Downing Street celebrations during confinement adds to the accusations against the Prime Minister for participating in parties while the rest of the country remained confined to prevent the spread of covid-19.
Mourning in the palace, party in the Executive
Johnson’s government is under fire as accusations mount over dozens of parties held while the population was forced to reduce personal contacts to prevent the spread of the virus. At the time, indoor gatherings were prohibited, with only a maximum of six people allowed to gather outdoors.
“It is deeply regrettable that this has taken place at a time of national mourning and Downing Street has apologized to the palace.”, said today the official spokesman for the British government. Although the prime minister was not present at those festivities prior to Prince Philip’s funeral, the Telegraph newspaper’s revelation adds to accusations about events and parties held in Downing Street during confinement.
The newspaper Telegraph, who traditionally defends the position of the Conservative Party, was the one who revealed the Downing Street staff celebrations, which occurred on April 16, 2021 and lasted until the early hours. At that time the government had also asked the British not to go to Buckingham Palace to lay flowers or to Windsor for the death of Philip of Edinburgh to avoid crowds that violated the rules of social distancing.
The British morning revealed that two meetings were held and one of the events was about the farewell of James Slack, then Director of Communications to the Prime Minister, who was appointed editor-in-chief of the daily The Sun and today he publicly apologized for the anger and pain caused. “This event should not have happened at the time it did. I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility.”, he stated and added that he could not comment further because the matter had been referred to the investigation being carried out by public official Sue Gray.
As indicated by the Daily TelegraphThat same night in Downing Street there was another farewell celebration for one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers. According to witnesses, the two festivities merged. At least 30 people consumed alcohol, danced until dawn. Witnesses further revealed that more than one member of staff was cheerful enough to use and break Wilfred Johnson’s swing, the youngest son of the prime minister.
This week an email was leaked to the British press revealing the invitation to an open-air cocktail party for more than 100 employees of the official residence while the rest of the country was prohibited from meeting with more than one person. On that occasion, the Prime Minister participated with his wife Carrie. Johnson apologized and said he was “so sorry we didn’t do things differently that night.” The Conservative leader argued that he thought it was a work event to thank his staff for their efforts during the pandemic.
This Friday afternoon, the former head of the group in charge of drawing up anticovid restrictions, Kate Josephs, also apologized for having organized a farewell party at the executive’s offices on December 17, 2020.
The leader of the Scottish National Independence Party (SNP) in Westminster, Ian Blackford, told the BBC he had been perplexed to learn of alleged parties at the official residence on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April 2021, husband of the British monarch. Blackford recalled the photo of the queen sitting alone in the Cathedral where her husband was kept awake, respecting the health rules against the coronavirus that limited social gatherings to groups of more than six people indoors.
“I think everyone can remember that picture of the queen sitting alone at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. Just the rudeness and insensitivity of those around the prime minister, number 10, who had not one but two parties the night before and the whole rumor that they brought booze in a bag and everything else“, he expressed.
According to the Scottish MP, the “alcohol culture” in the official residence during the lockdown was not acceptable when ordinary people were making so many sacrifices. For this reason, Blackford considered that Johnson is the one who directs the Government and that it was his staff who were partying, for which he insisted on the request for his resignation.
Yesterday, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, who heads a group of parliamentarians who also calls for Johnson’s resignation, described the British leader as a political zombie and announced that he will write to the 1922 Committee, which organizes the elections for the Conservative leadership, to record his lack of confidence in the prime minister.
Conservative MPs William Wragg and Caroline Nokes also urged Johnson to step down as prime minister. Wragg argued that Johnson’s position is “untenable”. Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer, for his part, urged the prime minister to resign, calling it a “pathetic spectacle of a man who had been left aimless”.