British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clinging to the hope that the investigation into his involvement in several “parties” he allegedly attended during the pandemic will favor his political future before deciding on his possible resignation.
Expectations are growing as senior civil servant Sue Gray examines the facts and allegations that Johnson broke restrictions on Britons, including a ban on them saying goodbye to dying relatives, according to AP on Jan. 17.
Moreover, amid national mourning decreed for the death of Prince Philip, officials reportedly gathered overnight at government headquarters for “bring your own booze” and “wine time Fridays” parties.
“The allegations have spawned public anger, incredulity and mockery, and prompted some in the governing Conservative Party to call for Johnson’s resignation,” reports author Jill Lawless, referring to the 2020 and 2021 meetings.
Johnson himself denied the facts, stating, “No. Nobody told me that what we were doing was, as you say, against the rules … I thought that I was attending a work event,” when questioned in the face of repeated accusations from his opponents, according to Reuters.
In this same sense, Johnson avoided answering whether he would resign from his position because of the scandal and only alluded to the results of the investigation being carried out by Gray.
On this sensitive issue, the Institute’s program director for government, Alex Thomas, said, “The Gray report is an important part of finding out what happened. But in the end this is a judgment for Conservative Cabinet ministers and MPs about whether they want Boris Johnson to lead their party and therefore lead the country.”
However, the opposition Labor Party deputy leader, Angela Rayner, was more trenchant, saying, “If he had any respect for the British public, he would do the decent thing and resign.”
She added: “He’s the prime minister, he set the rules, he didn’t need anyone to tell him that the party he attended broke them.”
The impact of any findings Gray may present could be of little consequence, given that they would only go back to making recommendations to the prime minister, which creates some uncertainty.
“Here it’s the prime minister who is being investigated, making Johnson the arbiter of his own punishment,” notes Lawless.
One possible consequence could involve the prime minister firing some senior officials and aides to protect himself by implementing the plan known as “Operation Save the Big Dog,” should Gray’s report not be so favorable.
For his part, Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings denounced Johnson, saying, “The events of 20 May alone, never mind the string of other events, mean the PM lied to parliament about parties.”
The scandal involving several “parties” has sent Johnson’s approval ratings plummeting, dragging the Conservative Party down with him. Also, more and more Conservative lawmakers are urging him to resign.