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Parties in Downing Street on the eve of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth’s husband plunge Johnson into crisis

A suitcase full of booze and dancing until dawn as Elizabeth II prepared to bury her husband: New revelations about Downing Street parties capped a disastrous week for Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday.

In one of the images that symbolize the rigor of the COVID-19 confinements in the United Kingdom, the queen, 95, is seen completely dressed in black and sitting alone in the chapel of Windsor Castle during the prince’s funeral. Felipe, with whom she was married for seven decades.

According to the conservative newspaper Daily Telegraph, until the early hours of that April 17, 2021, in a period of national mourning, Downing Street staff celebrated in style the departure of two collaborators: communication director James Slack, now deputy director from The Sun, and a personal photographer from Johnson.

These two parties, one of which was held in a basement of the government headquarters, ended up joining in the gardens of the official residence, according to that newspaper close to power.

One person had been sent to a supermarket to buy bottles of wine which he took to Downing Street in a suitcase, he says.

At the time, indoor gatherings were prohibited, with only a maximum of six people allowed to gather outdoors.

Excuse “no reservations

In a statement on Friday, Slack apologized “unreservedly for the anger and pain caused”. “This event should not have happened at the time”, he added, saying that he assumed “all responsibility”.

Johnson, 57, was not present and was, according to a spokesman quoted by the Telegraph, at Checkers, the country residence of the British heads of government.

But these new revelations are added to the already long list of parties organized in the circles of power during the confinement periods of the last two years. And they show, according to witnesses quoted by the media, a true drinking culture in Downing Street.

So they further sink the conservative leader who, alleging that a member of his family contracted COVID-19, has not been seen in public since on Wednesday he acknowledged under his breath in Parliament his attendance at one of these parties in May 2020.

He said he thought it was a “work event”.

The highly controversial Johnson is experiencing the worst crisis since his triumphant rise to power in July 2019. Very weak in the polls, he is now fighting to keep the reins of his party and the government.

The queen sat alone, in mourning, like so many others at the time, affected by personal trauma and sacrifice, to respect the rules in the national interest.”, denounced on Twitter Angela Rayner, number two of the Labor Party, the main opposition formation.

“moral vacuum”

Several Conservative MPs, some of whom were until recently staunch Johnson supporters, joined the opposition in calling for his resignation.

Andrew Bridgen was the latest to submit a letter to the committee that governs the Conservative Party parliamentary organization, denouncing a “moral vacuum at the heart of government” and calling for a motion of internal censure against its leader.

If enough of these letters are received, the committee will have to organize a new primary to replace Johnson.

And although most of his government has supported him, one of the heavyweights, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, considered a possible candidate for prime minister, was much more reserved.

Meanwhile, Johnson and his ministers repeat over and over again that we must wait for the publication of the conclusions, at best next week, of an internal investigation into alleged illegal parties commissioned by high-ranking official Sue Gray, known for his integrity and authority.

But The Times newspaper announced on Friday that the investigation had not found sufficient evidence of criminal offenses.

The parties also outraged the relatives of the victims of COVID-19. “That the people who run this country do them and then lie about it shows total disregard for the citizens”, lashed Fran Hall, from the association Bereaved Families for Justice.

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