Downing Street apologizes to Queen for the party the night before Prince Philips’ funeral

Boris Johnson‘s office has apologized to the royal family for holding a staff party in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philips’ funeral last year – the latest in a series of allegedly lockdown-violating assemblies that threaten to topple British prime minister.

The farewell party for Johnson’s retiring spin doctor, complete with drinking and dancing late in the evening, took place on April 16, 2021, the night before Queen Elizabeth sat alone at her husband’s funeral due to rules of social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Johnson spokesman Jamie Davies said the government acknowledged the party had caused “considerable public anger”.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II sits alone in St. George’s Chapel at the funeral of Prince Philip, the man who had been by her side for 73 years, at Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Prince Philip died on April 9 at. age 99 after 73 years of marriage to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. (Jonathan Brady / Pool via AP) (AP)

“It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning, and No. 10 has apologized to the Palace,” he said, using a term for the Prime Minister’s 10 Downing St office.

Johnson’s former communications director James Slack said the party “should not have taken place at the time it happened.”

“I would like to apologize unreservedly for the anger and the pain that has been caused,” Slack said in a statement.

“I’m deeply sorry and take full responsibility,” added Slack, who left the government last year and is now deputy editor of the tabloid newspaper. The sun.

Johnson is alleged to have not attended the graduation party, according to the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper. Earlier in the week, he apologized for going to a rally in the garden at Downing Street, his office and home, in May 2020, when Britain was under strict blockade.

Boris Johnson's approval has fallen sharply in the last few months.
Boris Johnson’s approval has fallen sharply in the last few months. (Getty)

The recent party has shaken many in Britain because of the symbolism of its timing. The Daily Telegraph said staff at Downing Street drank, danced and socialized as they left parties for Slack and another employee late into the night. The next day, the widow queen sat alone in the church during her husband’s funeral service at Windsor Castle to abide by the rules of social distance that prevented indoor mixing.

Images of the monarch, dressed in black and wearing a face mask, became a powerful image of the isolation and sacrifice that many endured during the pandemic.

Members of Johnson’s Conservative government have expressed support for the prime minister after he admitted on Wednesday that he was attending a “bring your own booze” staff party in the garden of his Downing Street office in May 2020.

At the time, people in the UK were banned by law from meeting more than one person outside their households as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. Millions were cut off from family and friends, and even barred from visiting dying relatives in hospitals.

Many conservatives fear that the “partygate” scandal could become a turning point for a leader who has weathered a series of other storms over his spending and his moral judgment.

Nurses from nearby St. Thomas Hospital rests on National Covid Memorial Wall in London, Tuesday 27 April 2021. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected a press release quoting him as saying he would rather see corpses pile high in their thousands than imposes on the country a third national lockdown. The Daily Mail claimed that Johnson made the comment in the fall of 2020 when his government introduced another lockdown to combat an increase in coronavirus cases. (AP (AP)

Recent revelations are likely to lead more conservatives to join opponents and demand that Johnson step down to override the rules imposed by the government when the coronavirus swept into Britain.

As a sign of growing anger in the party ranks, the Conservative association in the loyal Tory district of Sutton Coldfield in central England on Thursday night voted unanimously to withdraw its support from Johnson.

“Culture starts at the top, doesn’t it?” said Simon Ward, a Conservative city council member. “And that’s the really disappointing point.

“We have asked people across our country to make massive sacrifices, people in rural Sutton Coldfield to make massive sacrifices over the last two years. I think we have a right to expect everyone in government and in these leadership positions, they follow the same rules and guidelines. “

Johnson said in his apology Wednesday that he publicly understood “rage,” but stopped admitting mistakes and said he had considered the collection a work event to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Boris Johnson greet guests at Windsor Castle. (Getty)

Johnson urged people to await the conclusions of an investigation by senior official Sue Gray into several alleged rule-breaking parties by government personnel during the pandemic. Gray, a respected public servant who has investigated previous allegations of ministerial misconduct, is expected to report before the end of the month.

The government says Gray’s investigation is independent, but she’s an official, and Johnson is ultimately her boss. Gray could conclude that Johnson broke the code of conduct for government ministers even though she does not have the power to fire him. Johnson has not said what he would do if she found out he was guilty.

Johnson will not face voter sentencing until the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2024. But his party may seek to oust him more quickly if it assesses that he has become toxic.

Under conservative rules, a no-confidence motion against the leader can be triggered if 15 percent of the party’s lawmakers write letters demanding it.

Roger Gale, a Conservative lawmaker who has long been critical of Johnson, said he had already submitted a letter calling for a leadership challenge.

“I think the mindset this weekend is focused on the need to take the necessary action,” he said. “I obviously do not know, and I should not know how many of my colleagues have written letters … but I think there is a momentum growing.”

Secretary of State Liz Truss – often cited as a potential successor to Johnson – said she understood “people’s anger and dismay” over the party’s revelations.

But she said, “I think we should move on now.”

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