Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom (UK) is inundated with calls to resign after a leaked video showed a staff in Downing Street [Official Residence and Offices of the Prime Minister], joking about hosting an illegal Christmas party while the country was under strict COVID-19 rules last year, 2020.
According to the leaked video, the party took place on December 18, 2020, and involved food and drinks, party, games, and a ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange, in the height of the pandemic.
The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) most senior MP, Ian Blackford, stated that Boris Johnson “can no longer lead” UK’s pandemic response, while noting that the “only right and moral choice left” for Johnson is to quit.
“Trust in leadership is a matter of life and death. Downing Street wilfully broke the rules and mocked the sacrifices we have all made, shattering the public’s trust.
“The Prime Minister is responsible for losing the trust of the people. He can no longer lead on the most pressing issue facing these islands. If Johnson does not resign, he must be removed.”Ian Blackford
Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, also suggested the prime minister should resign.
“The Prime Minister is in it up to his neck. His actions have undermined public trust and distracted from key public health messaging at a critical time. Serious times call for serious leadership and it is clear that Boris Johnson isn’t up to the job.”Wes Streeting
Anger has been mounting among Johnson’s own Conservative colleagues over the leaked video, as well as new COVID-19 restrictions which the prime minister announced on Wednesday, December 8, 2021.
One Conservative MP, William Wragg, was reported to have shouted in the House, “Resign!” as Health Secretary Sajid Javid, also a Conservative, spoke in the House of Commons, while other MPs heckled him.
The Prime Minister Calls for Investigation
Johnson has since apologized for the video, which was shot in December 2020, and stated he was shocked to see it emerge.
The video was obtained days after sources told media outlets that there had been a party in the prime minister’s Downing Street office that broke COVID-19 rules at the time.
At the time the party was held, the UK was under Tier 3 restrictions, which limited indoor gatherings to groups of two and prohibited office parties.
After first denying a party occurred, Johnson announced on Wednesday, December 8, during a speech at the House of Commons that he would be opening an investigation into the event.
“If rules have been broken, there will be disciplinary action for all those involved”.Boris Johnson
Updating MPs, Minister Michael Ellis indicated Simon Case, the most senior civil servant in government, will be tasked with establishing “swiftly a general understanding of the nature of the gatherings, including attendance, the setting and the purpose”.
“If required, the investigation will establish whether individual disciplinary action is warranted,” he insisted, adding that all ministers, special advisers and civil servants will be expected to cooperate.
Mr Ellis emphasized that if any evidence emerges of behaviour that is a potential criminal offence, the matter will be referred to the police and the Cabinet Office’s work may be paused.