Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made no secret of his hopes for a dramatic political comeback. But the ongoing “gate party” scandal threatens that, with new, graphic revelations emerging.
Contradicting his subsequent denials of breaking any lockdown rules, Johnson allegedly joked at a raucous 10 Downing Street event in November 2020 that it was “the most socially distanced party in the UK”.
Staff shredded documents as civil service and police investigations loomed, and some had sex at a riotous party the night before Prince Philip’s funeral, according to aides interviewed on an ITV broadcast.
Angela Reiner, deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, responded: “As the disgraced former prime minister plots his return, he reminds us once again why he is utterly unfit for office.”
“While people were unable to say goodbye to their loved ones or mourn with their families, he would break his rules with reckless abandon and then lie to the British people.”
The audio broadcast appeared on ITV this week as a parliamentary committee is set to open an inquiry that could lead to Johnson being suspended or even expelled from the House of Commons.
The Privileges Committee is looking into whether he lied to the House of Commons, starting in December 2021 after one video emerged, when he told MPs that “the rules were followed at all times”.
A Downing Street source who attended the parties told ITV: “We all saw the movie live and were absolutely blown away.”
Also read: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologizes to the cleaners and bouncers for the parties
“We were all so shocked that he would deny it. He was there. We were there. We were all there together.”
Johnson – along with his eventual successor Rishi Sunak – was fined by London police for another Downing Street event in June 2020 that breached his government’s rules on social distancing.
“At all times staff have been given clear directions to retain any relevant information and to cooperate with the investigation,” Sunak’s spokesman said Thursday.
“The final nail” –
After his fellow Conservative MPs grew tired of the ongoing scandal and forced his resignation, Johnson attempted a sensational comeback in October when Liz Truss forced herself out of No. 10.
But after a quick rush from a Caribbean vacation and a hectic weekend of campaigning, he dropped out of the race, letting Sunak take over.
One Conservative MP described the ITV report as “the final nail in the coffin of his self-made comeback”, according to The Independent.
But Johnson and his followers like former minister Nadine Dorries are thick-skinned, and the former prime minister has been honing his legacy and enduring relevance through a series of well-paid speeches.
Also read: Brexit: The Rise and Fall of Boris Johnson
Most reasonable people know that they (Conservative MPs) were dead wrong. Nothing has gone so well for us since the day they removed Boris Johnson,” Doris told TalkTV on Tuesday.
Johnson passionately defended his record at the Conservative-oriented Carlton club in London on Tuesday to unveil a photo of himself – which showed a slimmer, livelier-looking figure.
The unveiling was meant to be the centerpiece of what The Sunday Times said was the start of a comeback campaign ahead of UK local elections in May, which polls predict will do poorly for Sunak.
Senior Johnson loyalists founded a new group called the Democratic Conservative Organization, and insisted that party members have a say in Sunak’s leadership.
But a former minister told The Independent: “This would make the Privileges Committee’s investigation much more difficult for Boris – if this had been lifted, he clearly would have known what was going on.
Also read: Britain’s Rishi Sunak refuses to attack Boris Johnson in a bid for leadership
“I’m afraid some of his supporters are oblivious to reality and may try to cause undue disruption by continuing to push him.”
A spokesman for Johnson did not deny that he said “the most socially distanced party”.
But he stressed that the then-leader had “worked continuously” to ensure the government did everything it could to protect lives and jobs during the pandemic.