British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under fire for celebrating his birthday during the first corona lockdown. Politicians and relatives of corona patients react indignantly in British media to the report about the meeting.
News channel ITV reported that dozens of people attended the festive gathering in June 2020. Johnson was given cake and serenaded. However, the government says it was not a real celebration but just a short meeting to congratulate the prime minister.
Johnson can’t use another scandal. His position has already been shaken by similar reports of parties and social gatherings during lockdowns. This is being investigated by top official Sue Gray, who will probably come up with recommendations this week.
It remains to be seen whether Gray’s report will be released immediately by the government. The Guardian newspaper writes that the opposition Labor party wants to force publication of the full report next week if the authorities do not decide to do so themselves.
However, Johnson’s position is mainly threatened by angry party members who are tired of the scandals. They may try to oust him as party leader. Requesting a vote on his position requires the support of 15 percent of Conservative MPs.
If Johnson is ousted as party leader, he must also resign as prime minister. A senior MP estimated in The Guardian that Johnson may have already lost the support of a third of senior Conservatives. This concerns minister and important party officials.
Some top officials still speak out for Johnson publicly. For example, Minister of Culture Nadine Dorries defended her political boss on Twitter. She made it clear that she found the latest criticism rather exaggerated.
“If people in the office buy a cake for someone they work within the afternoon and then sing happy birthday for ten minutes and then go back to work, is that suddenly a party?” the minister wrote.
Other conservatives are more critical. Former party chairman Sayeeda Warsi told the BBC that Johnson should consider whether it is still in the national interest if he stays on. MP Andrew Bridgen said the new revelations could be “the last straw”.
Relatives of deceased corona patients react angrily. Jo Goodman of action group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said that after her father’s death from Covid-19, her relatives “couldn’t even hug” because of the corona rules.