The British government on Friday apologized to Queen Elizabeth II after revelations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s staff had broken coronavirus restrictions by partying on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.
“It is deeply regrettable that this happened at a time of national mourning and No. 10 (Downing Street) has apologized to the palace,” Johnson’s official spokesman told reporters.
The message to the 95-year-old head of state is said to have been sent by telephone through official channels and not personally by Johnson, who is under mounting pressure to quit following a slew of similar allegations.
Johnson has so far tried to weather the storm of public and political outcry, apologizing to parliament this week for attending one of the May 2020 events.
But the two parties on April 16, 2021, as the Queen prepared to bury her husband of 73 years – and revealed by the Daily Telegraph – take the scandal to another level.
The newspaper, for whom Johnson worked before entering politics, normally supports his conservative government.
Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle was limited to just 30 guests due to government Covid rules requiring the Queen to sit in a pew alone to say her last goodbye.
About the same number of Johnson employees held separate boozy bashes the night before, with music from a DJ, and alcohol bought in a supermarket and smuggled into Downing Street in a suitcase.
Johnson, who is currently isolated due to a close relative who contracted Covid, was at his official country residence, Checkers, at the time, according to the Telegraph.
All three main opposition parties have demanded Johnson’s resignation. Five of his own Conservative MPs have publicly joined the call to quit.
Andrew Bridgen, a formerly loyal supporter, on Friday became the last Tory MP to say he had submitted a letter of no confidence in Johnson to a powerful committee of ordinary Conservative MPs.
If 15 percent or 54 of the 360 Conservative MPs in parliament do the same, it will lead to an internal leadership contest — if Johnson doesn’t quit of his own accord.
The Telegraph reported that as many as 30 MPs had already sent letters.
Bridgen, a staunch supporter of the Brexit who brought Johnson to power in 2019, wrote in the paper that there is currently “a moral vacuum at the heart of our government”.
Most cabinet members have sided with Johnson, but support from potential successors such as powerful finance minister Rishi Sunak has been clearly lukewarm.
Johnson has urged all parties to await the findings of an internal investigation, which will now include final claims.
His former communications director, James Slack, apologized Friday for the “anger and pain” his departure on April 16 had caused.
Slack, now deputy editor-in-chief at The Sun tabloid, said he took “full responsibility” and was “deeply sorry”.
The party is said to have merged with another event marking the departure of one of Johnson’s personal photographers.
Government guidance then forbade socializing, except with your household or support bubble. That saw thousands of families unable to visit loved ones who were sick or died from Covid, or even attend their funerals.
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the main opposition Labor party, and others took advantage of the revelations, arguing that they showed a culture of double standards at the heart of government.
“The Queen was alone in mourning, like so many at the time, with personal trauma and sacrifice to obey the rules in the national interest,” Rayner said.
“I have no words for the culture and behavior at number 10 and the money stops with the prime minister,” she added.
Fran Hall, of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, said: “For the people running the country to do it and then lie about it shows complete disregard for the general public.”
Johnson’s polls have come under scrutiny since the “partygate” allegations emerged last month.
A new YouGov poll in The Times gave Labor a 10-point lead over the Tories, the largest margin since 2013, and said six out of 10 voters think Johnson should resign.
London’s Metropolitan Police say it will await the findings of the government’s internal investigation before deciding whether to launch its own criminal investigation.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)