Boris Johnson is about to finally face the music over Downing Street party - here's what might happen
The Prime Minister will face furious MPs in the Commons from noon on Wednesday
It's make-or-break for Boris Johnson today, as he prepares for Prime Minister's Questions amid calls for him to resign and a day after he dodged an earlier attempt to make him face the music over the Downing Street lockdown party.
In his first Commons appearance since an email leaked on Monday from his principal private secretary Martin Reynolds inviting Number 10 staff to a drinks gathering in May 2020, the PM will be forced to field questions from furious MPs awaiting an explanation for the “bring your own booze” garden party.
The leak is the second time Johnson has been accused of illegally "partying" while the rest of the country was in a lockdown enforced by his own government.
Partygate 2.0 is expected to dominate proceedings on Wednesday, where Johnson will be pressed about whether he attended the party himself, after reports suggested both he and wife Carrie joined 40 staff to eat and drink in the garden at 10 Downing Street.
Johnson is facing mounting pressure to come clean over the alleged drinks gathering, with members of his own party accusing the Prime Minister of eroding public trust "when it's already low".
How do you defend the indefensible?
It’s embarrassing and what’s worse is it further erodes trust in politics when it’s already low.
We need openness, trust and honesty in our politics now more than ever and that starts from the top!
— Christian Wakeford MP (@Christian4BuryS) January 12, 2022
Johnson will face Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who returns to Parliament today after a second bout of Coronavirus.
Tweeting from isolation, Sir Keir called on Johnson to "stop lying to the British public", chastising the PM for not only knowing about the parties, but also attending them.
Boris Johnson, your deflections and distractions are absurd.
Not only did you know about the parties in Downing Street, you attended them.
Stop lying to the British public. It’s time to finally come clean.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) January 11, 2022
Johnson faces an agonising catch-22 as he prepares to face MPs at noon.
He could deny any knowledge of the party, as he did with December's allegations of a Christmas lockdown party. Or, he could offer a full-apology - an option that would prove not only did he lie to Parliament, but that he took part in a potentially law-breaking activity.
This morning Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said Johnson should quit over the latest claims if he had “any shred of decency left in him”.
The former cabinet minister told BBC Breakfast that Johnson is now “incapable of leading our country through this public health crisis – I actually think he is a threat to the health of the nation, because no-one will do anything he says because he has now shown to have been deceitful, so Boris Johnson must now resign".
“He said to parliament and to the country before Christmas when he was apologising that he didn’t know about the parties, and now we know he was at, at least one of those parties. So, he has clearly lied, he has broken the ministerial code, he has broken the law, he’s misled parliament – any prime minister in the past would resign for just one of those offences."
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner told Sky on Wednesday that it was "shameful" that Johnson hasn't fronted up to answer questions about the party.
“He can clear this up very quickly and he has refused to do so, so far, and he has really undermined the office of prime minister by letting this carry on and continue because he refuses to tell the British public what they deserve to hear, and that’s whether or not he broke the lockdown rules and whether he was at this party or not.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner says it's "not unsurprising" a minister wasn't put forward to appear in the media this morning, adding 'to anyone who lost a loved one, it's despicable to find out they were partying'https://t.co/4zeZ5NgK1G📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 pic.twitter.com/oPB8MdnKDV
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 12, 2022
Fifty-five minutes before the Downing Street party began, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden delivered a press conference reminding people of the lockdown rules, saying: “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart."
The leaked email from Reynolds would have been a flagrant breach of the Coronavirus rules. The email obtained by ITV news and sent to around 100 people read:
“After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”
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