New photos of the party in Downing Street aggravate the confrontation between Boris Johnson and Parliament | International
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“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” Michael Corleone complained angrily in the third installment of The Godfather. In the particular saga that Boris Johnson lives, with the scandal of the parties in Downing Street during confinement, there is always a reminder of the particular infamy that all that meant for many Britons, just when the prime minister begins to trust that he has left from the quagmire The photos published this Monday exclusively by the ITV network show Johnson, glass in hand, toasting effusively with his team of collaborators. It was November 13, 2020. The entire UK was under strict lockdown. No one could meet indoors with people from another household. On the office table there are two bottles of champagne or cava, four of wine, one of gin, crackers, chips, paper cups… It was Lee Cain’s farewell, until then the Prime Minister’s Director of Communication . That day, Dominic Cummings, the ideologue of the campaign in favor of Brexit in the 2016 referendum and star adviser to the new Johnson government, had also left through the back door of the building, until his continuous clashes with the politician’s wife, Carrie Symonds, made him fall from grace.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Cummings, brilliant but obsessive in his revenge against his former boss, is behind many leaks of photos or relevant information about the parties. Through his Twitter account or his subscription blog. The important thing is that the prey has no escape. In the interest of brevity in the message that Twitter requires, the former adviser always refers to Johnson with a shopping cart emoticon. This is how the conservative politician defined himself one day, unable to resist a good joke, even if it was about himself. He was the metaphor to express his inability to move in a straight line – to focus on one goal – and always ends up lurching from one side to the other.
“Proof that Johnson was at an event where others were fined and he was not. Why? I try to cover it all up. Proof also that he lied to deputies,” Cummings wrote shortly after the new photos were leaked. Accurate in your vendetta Like a surgeon, he pointed out the two lines of attack that put Johnson back on the ropes. The photos would show, according to the former adviser, that the prime minister was in contempt of Parliament. And Scotland Yard, which limited itself to imposing a single fine on the Prime Minister, and for a party other than the one in the new images, would have turned a blind eye to save the politician.
On December 8, 2021, Labor MP Catherine West specifically asked Johnson in Parliament’s control session: “Can the Prime Minister tell this House if there was a party in Downing Street on November 13? [de 2020]?”.
The politician’s response has now returned to expose him in front of the image of the new photos: “No”, he said then. “But I am sure that, whatever happened, the rules and recommendations were complied with at all times. [de distanciamiento social]”.
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A little over a month ago, the House of Commons gave the green light for the Parliament’s Privileges Commission (similar to the Spanish Commission on the Statute of the Deputy) to investigate Johnson for possible contempt. That is, for lying or deliberately confusing the deputies with their statements about the parties. Downing Street tried to stop the vote, but many Conservative MPs were willing to rebel, and out of bullfighter embarrassment, he threw in the towel. The investigation went ahead, and the new photos will provide extra ammunition for a Parliament increasingly irritated by the way Johnson has tried to dodge responsibility from him. The conservative voices that had opted for silence so as not to generate instability during the Ukraine crisis have once again made themselves heard. “It is absolutely clear that this was a party. The prime minister misled us from the rostrum. There is only one honorable response to this,” said veteran MP Roger Gale. “For the vast majority, these images are something unjustifiable and wrong,” said Douglas Ross, leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, where Johnson’s adventures are a great bill for the party.
Only a few parliamentarians, and with small mouths, adhere to the defensive argument propagated by Downing Street, according to which Johnson had briefly stopped by to say goodbye to the honoree Cain after work. The prime minister’s red leather briefcase that rests on a chair in front of the politician, in the new published photos, would be the evident proof of that explanation.
Police in the spotlight
Each new piece of evidence that comes to light, like the photos from this Monday, allows citizens, opposition parties and the media to form their own judgment about what happened. And at the same time, calibrate the severity or rigor used by those responsible for investigating the parties. The Labor mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has become the strongest voice in questioning the work of Scotland Yard, which has closed its investigation and imposed a total of 126 fines on Downing Street staff. But only to one, and for a small amount (about 60 euros) to Johnson. “I think it is important, in terms of public trust, and given that the integrity of the investigation has been called into question, that the police give an account of how they have come to the conclusions that they have come to,” Khan told the BBB, in statements with the necessary subtlety so as not to openly confront him with a department that depends on him and that does not go through his best hours.
The photos reignite the party scandal, to Johnson’s detriment, but it’s also not helped by growing suspicions that Downing Street has tried to maneuver behind the scenes to shut everything down by phony. Along with the questioning of the mildness of the sanctions imposed by Scotland Yard, in recent hours it has been known that Johnson’s team asked the senior official Sue Gray to meet privately with the prime minister. Nobody clarifies the purpose of a meeting that finally took place, but the idea flies that she tried to convince Gray to put her report on the parties in a drawer. The number two of the body of senior civil servants of the United Kingdom and deputy secretary of the Johnson Cabinet Office, a woman of integrity and hermetic who does not marry anyone, should finally publish this week the definitive report of her. In order not to interfere with the Scotland Yard investigation, she only released part of the document at the end of last January. Already then he pointed out that in Downing Street there was “an excessive consumption of alcohol that is never appropriate in the workplace”, and that there had been “failures in the leadership and judgment used by different departments of No. 10 Downing Street ”. It became clear then that that leadership was Johnson’s. Many Conservative MPs chose to wait for Gray’s final report before making a decision on the future of the prime minister. Johnson faces another week of ordeal, just when he thought he was out.
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