New ‘Partygate’ photos show Boris Johnson toasting in Downing Street

The hangover from the ‘Partygate’ celebrations continue to give the British prime minister headaches. In four photos released Monday by the ITV television network, Boris Johnson is shown toasting with a glass of wine in his hand and speaking to a group of people in Downing Street. In front of him is a table with bottles of alcohol, empty glasses and finger food. The party, in which eight people are seen side by side, with no distance between them, plus the photographer, took place on November 13, 2020, when the restrictions due to the coronavirus were extremely severe. At that time it was forbidden to meet indoors unless it was strictly necessary for work, otherwise a crime was being committed. The photos correspond to the farewell in honor of the then Director of Communications for the Prime Minister, Lee Cain, who was leaving the post.

A year later, when news of the illegal festivities began to circulate, Labour MP Catherine West asked Johnson directly in the House of Commons whether there had been a party on that November 13, 2020. “No. But I am sure that whatever happened, the guidelines and rules were followed at all times,” was the response of the ‘premier’ and that now puts him in a very difficult position.

The images show that he has lied, something that a parliamentary commission is about to investigate. It will also have to be explained how Johnson escaped without sanction. An official spokesman for the prime minister assured that the police had such material during the investigation into the events concluded last month. Scotland Yard imposed a single fine on him for participating in the birthday party organized in his honor by his wife, Carrie, who was also fined. The police, which issued 126 fines to 83 people for eight events, did instead impose one or more sanctions on members of Downing Street staff and other ministerial departments, among whom a sense of anger and injustice has been growing. Behind the release of the photos could be the hand of one of them.

The images come to light the week in which the publication of the ‘Partygate’ report drawn up by civil servant Sue Gray is expected. In the summary published in January, Gray noted the inappropriate atmosphere in the official residence with “excessive alcohol consumption which is never appropriate in the workplace”, as well as “failures in leadership and judgment employed by different departments at No. 10 Downing Street”. The official condemned what happened. “Some events should never have been allowed, and others should have been allowed otherwise.”

In recent weeks Gray has held a secret meeting with Johnson. When asked for explanations, spokesmen for the prime minister claimed it had been held at the worker’s request. This Monday they had to backtrack and confess that it was Johnson who requested the meeting.

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