Jan 13, 2022 - World

Latest lockdown party bombshell piles pressure on Boris Johnson

Today's front pages. Photo: Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty

With speculation already swirling that members of Parliament from Boris Johnson's own party might soon force him out, the Daily Telegraph (his former employer) added Thursday to the drip, drip of doom over lockdown-defying parties in Downing Street.

Driving the news: The night before Prince Philip’s funeral last April — at which Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sat alone due to social distancing rules — Downing Street staff gathered at two parties for departing colleagues.

  • The rules at the time said Brits were not allowed to socialize indoors except with members of their own households.
  • But some of the people helping to write those rules were, according to the Telegraph, dancing and drinking until after midnight. Johnson didn't attend.

State of play: Johnson apologized on Wednesday for attending a different BYOB party during a strict lockdown in May 2020 (more precisely, he apologized for the impression it caused but said he believed it to be a "work event").

  • Johnson asked members to reserve judgment until after senior civil servant Sue Gray completes her inquiry into alleged lockdown violations on Downing Street.
  • At least five Conservative MPs have already called for Johnson to step down. If 54 members express a lack of confidence in Johnson in writing, that would trigger a leadership election.
  • U.K. media coverage has been full of the accounts of people who missed funerals or couldn’t visit loved ones in the hospital while Johnson’s staff gathered for social events. 6% of the public think Johnson is being honest, per YouGov.

What to watch: If a leadership contest is triggered (no sure thing), the early favorites to become party leader and prime minister would be Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

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