Boris Johnson takes responsibility, but will not resign due to lockdown parties

  • The official report blames the failures of the senior leadership
  • Time to leave, Labor leader tells UK prime minister

LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) – Boris Johnson said he was humble and responsible but refused to step down following a formal condemnation Wednesday of a series of illegal quarantine parties at the British leader’s Downing Street office.

Opposition politicians and some within his own party have repeatedly called for him to resign over alcohol-related rallies in violation of COVID-19 rules, in addition to banning people from socializing outside their homes.

“I am humble and I have learned a lesson,” Prime Minister Johnson told parliament, adding that he would not resign.

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Senior official Sue Gray’s report did not specifically accuse Johnson, but included photographs and graphic details from more than a dozen rallies.

He attended some, including a party to celebrate his 56th birthday on June 19, 2020, for which he was fined, but Gray said he was unaware in advance. Johnson Curry’s wife and Treasury Secretary Risi Sunak were also fined for the incident.

“Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen,” Gray said. “Senior leadership … must take responsibility for this culture.”

Johnson, who commissioned the report, said he was disappointed with some of the behavior he had revealed, but that attending retirement events to please colleagues was part of his job.

“Some people will believe that it was wrong even to do so, I must say I respectfully disagree,” he told a news conference.

Gray’s interim findings were released in January, but details were kept secret until the end of a police investigation that ended last week with 126 fines.

A YouGov poll found that 59% of Britons believe Johnson should resign after the report, but only 7% believe he will. Three-quarters said they believed he had knowingly lied to him about violating COVID-19 rules.

DECLARATIVE BEHAVIOR IN THE “HEART OF THE GOVERNMENT”

Her full report included emails and messages indicating that many rallies had been planned in advance, with discussions about who would bring alcohol – drinks with which “we seem to have gotten away,” said Johnson’s then-head of office Martin Reynolds. , in a. message. L5N2XH35B

There were warnings from another official that people should not “shake wine bottles” before a rally that coincided with a televised press conference when ministers told the public to follow COVID-19 rules.

At a June 2020 event, Gray said that “excessive alcohol consumption” led one person to become ill and to quarrel between two others. read more

In another, the night before the April 2021 funeral for Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, people were partying in the early hours of the morning and destroying a child’s crib. read more

“The public has a right to expect the highest standards of conduct in such places, and it is clear that what happened was not very low,” Gray said.

He cited many examples of disrespect and mistreatment by security and cleaning staff who had to remove red wine from walls after an event.

For months, party figures have been dripping into the media, forcing Johnson to apologize, change his office team and promise a reinstatement to try to restore power.

Opposition Labor leader Kir Starmer said Johnson’s resignation’s message and that the government believed there was one rule for them and another for everyone else.

“You can not be a lawmaker and a lawbreaker,” Starmer told parliament – he is under police investigation for possible breach of COVID rules. He said he would resign if fined.

Johnson’s immediate fate is in the hands of his Conservative MPs who can ask for a vote of confidence. Many had said they would wait for Gray’s full report before deciding.

One who had been reluctant to judge, Julian Stardy, said he now believed it was in the public interest for Johnson to resign.

“It is clearly a period in which we can have no doubt about the honesty, integrity and personal character of the prime minister,” he said.

Others saw the report as less convincing than it could be, with one describing it as “banal.”

Johnson later spoke at a meeting of lawmakers, in which one attendee said he was “calm, thoughtful, serious.”

“He did well, the feeling is that he is no longer in danger,” the Conservative said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Johnson initially denied that there was a breach of the rules on Downing Street, and some lawmakers say his position is unfounded if he is found to have lied to parliament, an issue being investigated by the Privileges Committee.

As an apology, he said he wanted to “fix the record” that no rules were broken. “Clearly this was not the case for some of these rallies after I left,” Johnson told parliament.

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Report by Elizabeth Piper, Mujiva M, William James, Andrew MacAskill, Alistair Smout and Kylie MacLellan. written by Michael Holden. curated by John Stonestreet and Howard Goller

Our role models: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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