By Charlie Kimber and Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2806

Boris Johnson’s partygate crimes—empty apology after Gray report published

As crisis over lockdown parties returns for Boris Johnson, it's time to ramp up resistance to the Tories
Issue 2806
Boris Johnson and blurred-out figures in Downing Street with a table of bottles of alcoholic drinks

A picture issued with the Sue Gray report shows Johnson carousing in Downing Street

Each day there is new evidence of Boris Johnson’s lockdown crimes. And each day he lies and blusters in an effort to escape.

He was plunged back into crisis on Monday after pictures emerged of him ­drinking at a party during a Covid lockdown. He is pictured toasting colleagues while standing by a table laden with wine bottles, glasses, food and other drinks.

A lockdown was in place at the time the photographs were taken, with indoor gatherings of two or more people banned. The police fined other people believed to be in the same photo, but they let Johnson off.

This is how the establishment works, covering up for one another and hiding their crimes. Probably Johnson will escape again.

Civil servant Sue Gray released her full report on Downing Street parties during ­lockdown on Wednesday. The Times newspaper claimed Johnson had met Gray to pressure her not to publish the report. But in any case it did not provide the truly devastating criticism that Johnson deserved. 

It did detail the abuse of cleaning staff and security workers, top government officials partying in Downing Street until 4.35am on one occasion, people being sick in the offices and leaving wine on the walls. For months Number 10 press officers denied any parties took place. Gray has confirmed there were parties in the press office. 

Johnson’s only response was to make another fake apology to the Commons. Afterwards he told a press conference, that some events identified in Gray’s report were held for the purpose of “saying goodbye to valued colleagues”. This was a time when people couldn’t visit dying relatives, or attend their funerals.

Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former senior adviser who himself broke the lockdown, said of his former boss, “He doesn’t think he did anything wrong. As he said repeatedly in 2020 ‘Everyone better remember I’m the fucking Fuhrer around here’.”

An instant opinion poll by YouGov showed 59 percent of people thought Johnson should resign, 30 percent that he should stay.

Behind the day-to-day events and the constant revelations is a relentless pattern of protecting Johnson. Met police last week loyally informed him he wouldn’t receive more fines over parties that broke ­lockdown regulations.

Its statement detailed 126 police fines connected to Downing Street events. There were five parties where Johnson was present and where other people have been fined, but where the prime minister escaped without penalty. 

They were parties until Johnson arrived, when they apparently became “work events”. They are the 20 May 2020 party, infamous for the invitation telling people to “Bring your own bottle”, and Johnson’s birthday party on 19 June 2020.

There’s Lee Cain’s leaving party on 13 November 2020 and the Number 10 flat party celebrating the end of Dominic Cummings the same day. And then the 17 December 2020 leaving event for Captain Steve Higham and the 14 January 2021 leaving event for private secretaries.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK group said, “Conservative MPs promised they would make their mind up about the prime minister when the Sue Gray report is released. Every day they do not act they allow a man who gaslit us and lied to the faces of the bereaved when he claimed he did ‘everything possible’ to save our loved ones to remain in the highest office in the land.”

Carrie Johnson, the wife of the prime ­minister, has also been told she isn’t going to receive any further fines. Partygate may not bring down Johnson—although it should have done. It was a symbol of his contempt for everyone except his charmed circle. It was a sign of the fatal ­recklessness of the Covid policies. It’s about more than lies, it sums up a ruling class attitude. 

Johnson survives because of the lack of effective opposition and because Labour leader Keir Starmer has essentially agreed with him on so many issues, from “national unity” during coronavirus to the war in Ukraine. 

Johnson must not now be allowed to escape the fury over the ­government’s lack of action over the cost of living crisis.

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