We Shall Fight Them on the Benches: Johnson Responds on Whether He’ll Resign Over Partygate

© AFP 2023 / JESSICA TAYLORA handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing during the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Update in the House of Commons in London on December 15, 2021
A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing during the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Update in the House of Commons in London on December 15, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.01.2022
Britain’s prime minister has faced growing calls for his resignation amid revelations that he or members of his staff attended drinks-filled parties in 2020 while the rest of the country was under strict Covid lockdown. At least one Tory MP defected to Labour Wednesday, with nearly a dozen more expressing ‘no confidence’ in the PM amid the scandal.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected calls for his resignation amid swirling Partygate allegations, telling parliament that he will not budge from his seat.
“Last year, we were told by the prime minister there were no Downing Street parties. Then it turned out there were parties, but we were assured that no rules were broken. Last week, we heard the rules may have been broken but that he thought it was a work event. And now yesterday from the man who wrote the rules, it was ‘well nobody told me what those rules were,’” Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain said during Wednesday’s Question Time grilling of the prime minister.
“Will the prime minister agree it’s now time for him to resign?” she asked.
“No, Mr. Speaker. But what I could tell her, as I said to the House last week, I apologize sincerely for any misjudgments that were made, but she must contain her impatience Mr. Speaker and wait for the inquiry next week before she draws any of the conclusions that she’s just asserted,” Johnson answered.
The prime minister went on to face attack by Keir Starmer, accusing him of ‘wasting time’ after the Labour leader asked “if a prime misleads parliament, should they resign?”
“Mr. Speaker, let’s be absolutely clear, the Right Honourable Gentleman is continuing to ask a series of questions which he knows will be fully addressed by the inquiry. He is wasting this House’s time, he is wasting the people’s time Mr. Speaker,” Johnson said.
Conservative Party grandee MP David Davis, who served as chief Brexit negotiator under Prime Minister Theresa May, also demanded Johnson’s resignation in a passionate appeal recalling wartime MP Leo Amery’s appeal to Neville Chamberlain - the British prime minister accused of appeasing Hitler, during World War II.
“Like many on these benches, I spent weeks and months defending the prime minister against often angry constituents. I reminded them of his success in delivering Brexit, and the vaccine and many other things. But I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take. Yesterday, he did the opposite of that. So I’ll remind him of a quotation altogether too familiar to him of Leo Amery to Neville Chamberlain ‘You have sat there too long, for all the good you have done. In the name of God, go!’,” Davis urged.
“I must say to the Right Honourable Gentleman, I don’t know what he’s talking about. But what I can tell him, I don’t know what quotation he’s alluding to, that he is referring to – but what I can tell him is that I, and I think I’ve told this House repeatedly throughout this pandemic, I take full responsibility for everything done in this government and throughout the pandemic,” Johnson said.
Finally, Johnson was battered by Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson. “Mr. Speaker, when a prime minister is spending his time trying to convince the great British public that he’s actually stupid rather than dishonest, isn’t it time that he goes now?” she asked.
“Mr. Speaker I think that was a question for you rather than me, but I’m not, I’ve look, I’ve made my point. I think the British public has responded to what this government has had to say in the most eloquent way possible,” Johnson said amid chuckles from lawmakers.
Partygate Hangover
Johnson has spent over a week dismissing calls to resign following revelations that he breached his own Covid rules in May 2020 to attend a drinks party. After initially denying attending, he said he believed that the gathering was a “work event” in line with the rules. Former aide Dominic Cummings accused Johnson of lying and said he knew it was a drinks party.
An inquiry into the affair has been set up. Chaired by senior civil servant Sue Gray, the inquiry may deliver its conclusions as soon as later this week.
At least one Tory MP defected to Labour on Wednesday, with at 11 reportedly submitting letters of no confidence in the prime minister amid the crisis. Separately, the Guardian has reported on an alleged Tory plot to oust Johnson.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the weekly question time debate at Parliament in London, Britain, January 12, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.01.2022
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In a bid to placate his base Wednesday, Johnson announced that the government’s ‘Plan B’ Covid guidelines, set up in December to fight Omicron, would be dropped next week, eliminating mandatory masks in public places, Covid passports, and work from home restrictions. Starmer and Labour said they would “support the relaxation of Plan B as long as the science says that it is safe,” and asked Johnson to share his scientific evidence.
The prime minister said he would be “happy to share the scientific advice on which we’ve taken this decision, of course.” He promised passing the 100 million Covid vaccinations mark by June, and praised the sale of 2.5 billion AstraZeneca vaccines around the world.
A recent YouGov poll taken amid Partygate has shown Johnson’s Conservatives sinking against opposition Labour. According to the poll, if an election were held tomorrow, 38 percent of Britons would vote Labour, 28 percent Conservative, 13 percent Liberal Democrat, and 7 percent Green.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson eats a portion of pie aboard the Conservative Party campaign bus after a visit to the Red Olive catering company in Derby, central England Wednesday Dec. 11, 2019.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.01.2022
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