Boris Johnson defends his future by responding to parliament on “partygate”

The charismatic and controversial former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson displays his well-known political survival skills on Wednesday in a high-stakes interrogation for his future, before a commission investigating whether he intentionally lied to Parliament about the "partygate".

"The evidence we have raises serious questions. And this is the opportunity for Mr. Johnson to offer his answers."affirmed the president of the committee when opening the session, televised live.

British Tory swore on the bible to say "the whole truth and nothing but the truth" and he began by assuring that if he led the deputies into error, he did so unintentionally "based on what I honestly knew and believed at the time".

In his written defense, published the day before, he argued that his advisers had assured him that no rule had been violated during the multiple "Work meetings" held at their offices at 10 Downing Street during the lockdowns against covid-19.

"I was focused on difficult decisions related to the pandemic (as well as other issues the Prime Minister must address), my schedule was packed, number 10 is a complex environment and I was constantly in and out of the building"he explained.

"A prime minister cannot be expected to personally investigate matters like these. He had to trust, and he had every right to, what my trusted advisors told me."he added.

Johnson was forced to resign in July after an accumulation of scandals, including this one, baptized by the press as "partygate".

– Eventual political return –

On several occasions since December 2021, the then Prime Minister assured the deputies that their offices respected "at all times" the rules that he himself had imposed against a pandemic that left 220,000 dead in the United Kingdom, the second largest balance in Europe after that of Russia.

But he ended up admitting his "responsibility" when an internal investigation denounced the "leadership and judgment errors" of the "high ranks" involved in these meetings with excesses of alcohol, altercations and, sometimes, lack of respect for security and cleaning personnel.

Johnson, 58, who for decades managed to weather countless political storms, did not resign over this either.

However, he ended up being pushed out shortly after, after three turbulent years in power, by his own Conservative Party for naming a head of a parliamentary group accused of sexual abuse.

It was for many the straw that broke the camel’s back for a leader whose integrity was increasingly in question, a former electoral champion who then became a drag on the image of the conservatives.

His supporters, however, denounce a betrayal and fight for his political return before the next general elections, scheduled for January 2025 at the latest.

But if the committee of inquiry now decides that Johnson intentionally lied, it could recommend a sanction that would deal a fatal blow to that aspiration.

– "allowed it to continue" –

At the end of the investigation, the entire House of Commons will vote on a possible suspension of his seat as deputy and if this is longer than 10 days it could cause an early election in the Johnson constituency, in northwest London, which would leave him off the political board.

This month, the commission established in an interim report that the former leader should have seen that anti-covid regulations were being breached in his offices.

He posted previously unpublished photos and WhatsApp messages in which his advisers struggled to find a public justification for the parties.

The latest evidence also includes a statement by a Downing Street official that Johnson "often saw and joined" those meetings during lockdowns and "had a chance to catch them".

"He was able to see what was happening and allowed it to continue."he added.

Johnson’s former senior adviser, Martin Reynolds, also claimed that, ahead of a parliamentary appearance by the prime minister in early December 2021, he asked him "whether it was realistic to claim that all guidelines had been adhered to at all times".


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