January 22, 2022

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Boris Johnson, Under Fire, Apologizes for Pandemic Party – The New York Times

2 min read

“The party is over, prime minister,” Mr. Starmer said, asking, “The only question is, ‘Will the British public kick him out, will his party kick him out, or will he do the decent thing and resign?’”

Mr. Johnson deflected that demand, asking for Parliament to wait for the findings of the investigation, led by a senior civil servant, Sue Gray. But he looked beleaguered under a torrent of hostile questions from Mr. Starmer, a former public prosecutor, offering little in the way of a defense and repeatedly apologizing for having mishandled the situation.

For Mr. Johnson, one of the greatest risks is the mounting evidence that he misled Parliament in his previous statements — the kind of transgression that once might have forced a prime minister to resign. On Dec. 8, he declared in the House of Commons, “I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken.”

A week later, Mr. Johnson told reporters, “I can tell you once again that I certainly broke no rules.” On Dec. 20, after The Guardian newspaper published a photograph of the prime minister mixing with colleagues over wine and cheese in his garden during a lockdown, he said, “Those were people at work, talking about work.”

After the most recent disclosure — of the larger party that he also attended — Mr. Johnson stopped offering any response, saying that he would wait for the findings of the internal investigation.

Unlike other ethics questions that have clouded Mr. Johnson throughout his career, the furor over parties has struck a chord with the public. People vividly remember the grim months early in the pandemic, when they were told to isolate at home, and forbidden from visiting elderly parents, even if they became ill.

Amid the frenzy over this week, there have been clear signs that his support within the Conservative Party is waning. On Tuesday, when Mr. Johnson sent out a ministerial colleague to defend him in Parliament, few of his own lawmakers turned out in support.

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