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Boris Johnson raises his glass to Downing Street: photos relaunch the “partygate” – world

Photos of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sharing a drink in Downing Street in 2020, in full lockdown, have reignited accusations of lies against him, just before the release of a much-anticipated report on “partygate”.

These photos published Monday evening by ITV News were taken during a farewell party for the head of communications Lee Cain on November 13, 2020, a few days after the announcement of a second confinement in England. We see Boris Johnson raise his glass and chat with several people around a table on which there are several bottles of wine and food.

This farewell drink had been the subject of a police investigation, like other festive events organized in circles of power during the coronavirus pandemic, a scandal called “partygate”.

A rally “that did not look like work”

Asked in Parliament about the November rally, Boris Johnson assured that there had been no party on that date and that he was certain that the rules had not been broken. He was fined by the police for attending a surprise birthday party for his 56th birthday in June 2020 in Downing Street but was not sanctioned for this parting drink, which revived criticism.

Deputy Labor Party leader Angela Rayner said it was “astonishing” that the Tory leader had not been fined for the rally “which did not particularly look like work”, she told ITV. Aggravating circumstance, according to Angela Rayner, Boris Johnson “knew he had broken the rules (…) and yet he tried to get away with it. He tried to lie to the British public, and he tried to lie to Parliament.”

126 fines issued

Transport Minister Grant Shapps defended Boris Johnson on SkyNews. Describing the photos, Grant Shapps said he felt like Boris Johnson “comes downstairs from the office, thanks the staff and raises his glass, and doesn’t see it as a party”.

Added to these photos were statements by Downing Street employees describing to the BBC, on condition of anonymity, regular parties, with according to them the implicit agreement of Boris Johnson. One claimed that during the November 2020 go-to party, “there were about 30 people, if not more, in a room. Everyone was standing side by side, some people on each other’s knees.

The police investigation is now complete and a total of 126 fines have been issued for events that occurred on eight different dates, ranging from May 20, 2020 to April 16, 2021. But the publication of a report by senior civil servant Sue Gray on the “partygate” is expected in the coming days and could provide details and photos of the various events, adding grist to the mill for critics. The Times newspaper claims Boris Johnson pressured Sue Gray not to publish the report, a Downing Street spokesperson denied on Tuesday.

A parliamentary inquiry will then begin, aimed at determining whether Boris Johnson knowingly deceived MPs in this affair, by repeatedly asserting in the House of Commons that all the rules had been respected.

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