UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson denies ‘intentionally’ lying about lockdown parties
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recognized On Tuesday, he misled parliament about which government parties broke COVID, while claiming he never lied “intentionally”.
Johnson will be questioned by lawmakers on Wednesday over “partygate,” a scandal over drunken gatherings in Downing Street during the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns.
If found to have deliberately misled lawmakers, Johnson could face suspension or even lose his seat in parliament as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Any sanction will have to be approved by the House of Commons.
In written evidence submitted to Parliament, Johnson said his claims “were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time. I did not intentionally or recklessly mislead the House into error “.
When reports from the parties surfaced in late 2021, Johnson initially said no COVID rules had been broken, citing assurances from “trusted advisers.”
These turned out to be wrong, and Johnson later apologized, saying there had been “misjudgments”.
There has been a huge public outcry over the scandal, with millions of Britons following the rules to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Relatives were angry at a ban on saying goodbye to dying loved ones in hospital, while some officials drank alcohol at parties and allegedly abused cleaning and security staff.
What did Johnson say?
In the 52-page filing submitted to the House of Commons, Johnson said he “honestly believes” that the five events he attended, including sending a member of staff and his own birthday party surprise, were “lawful work gatherings”.
“No cake was eaten and no one even sang ‘Happy Birthday,'” he said of a celebration on June 19, 2020, for which he was fined by police.
“The main topic of conversation was the response to COVID-19.”
Johnson said suggestions that government officials see themselves as “in a directionless bubble, where the demands placed on the rest of the country don’t apply” were false.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray published a damning article report in partygate on May 25, 2022.
London police also conducted a separate investigation into the scandal, issuing 126 fines – including one to Johnson – for late night parties, booze parties and “wine Fridays” held at his official residence.
What does this mean for the Conservative Party?
Johnson was forced to resign in July, after a series of money and ethics scandals, it finally proved too much for fellow Tories, who left government by the dozens.
For Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Wednesday’s televised hearing will be an unwelcome reminder of the turmoil that has engulfed the Conservative government under Johnson – just as the party’s polls have started to rise after steady gains by Labour.
Johnson, once considered a secret weapon with voters, is now a liability, said Robert Hayward, a polling expert and Conservative member of the House of Lords.
“He’s a serious negative for most people,” Hayward said. “Boris’ polls are much worse than Rishi’s.”