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UK PM Boris Johnson Faces No-confidence Vote Over Partygate Scandal: All You Need To Know

UK PM Boris Johnson Faces No-confidence Vote Over Partygate Scandal: All You Need To Know

Over 40 Conservative Party MPs have publicly called for Johnson’s resignation as party leader over the scandal of Covid-19 law-breaking parties.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a trust vote over Partygate scandal
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a trust vote over Partygate scandal Facebook/Boris Johnson

A number of gatherings and parties were held at 10 Downing Street, where the UK PM lives and works, during the Covid-19 lockdowns between May 2020-April 2021. The scandal around these parties in violation of Covid-19 norms at the time is called 'Partygate'.

A poll published on May 30 showed that Brois Johnson is the least popular member of the UK Cabinet among Conservative activists in the country. His approval rating among Conservatives have plummeted in the wake of damning findings of a investigation into these parties. 

Public anger also rose over the finding that two parties were held in violation of rules at the time on the eve of the funeral of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. The next day, photographs of the Queen sitting masked and alone at her husband's funeral became defining image of the nation's suffering and sacrifice over the course of the pandemic, noted Slate.

While Johnson didn't attend thse two parties, it highlighted the culture of rule-breaking in his office, noted BBC.

What did the report find?

Top civil servant Sue Gray investigated the incidents at Downing Street and her report details 16 incidents in the period under investiation.

The report found there were "failures of leadership and judgment in No 10 [as Downing Street is called in UK] and the Cabinet Office" for which "the senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility", according to the BBC.

In May 2020, a "bring own booze" party was organised whose invitations were sent by the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary. In June, a party for Johnson's birthday was organised in the Cabinet Room, among other events violating rules at the time. 

The police fined 83 people, including Johnson, for those violations.

The political storm over 'partygate'

In recent weeks, more than 40 Tory MPs have publicly called for Johnson’s resignation as party leader over the scandal of Covid-19 law-breaking parties –dubbed partygate– under his premiership at Downing Street, an issue which remains in the spotlight since the scathing findings of leadership failures in an inquiry by top civil servant Sue Gray.

The report, released after a Scotland Yard probe which saw Johnson and wife Carrie being fined for a lockdown-breaching birthday party in the Cabinet Room of Downing Street in June 2020, laid bare parties and misconduct within government offices during the 2020-2021 lockdowns to control the spread of coronavirus.

Johnson returned to Parliament to reiterate a previous apology, saying he took full responsibility for what went on under his watch. However, besides the Opposition, there have been growing calls for him to step down within his own party quarters.

The trust vote

Johnson looks likely to win such the trust vote but it will deliver a blow to his leadership, according to analysts. 

Johnson's opponents need to have 180 votes to oust him as party leader and Prime Minister and it is widely believed they may have pushed this vote of confidence too soon and without building up a strong appetite for a new party leader.

Under the current Conservative Party rules, if Johnson wins, it would rule out another similar no-confidence vote for at least 12 months.

Downing Street released a short statement following Brady's announcement to say that the vote would help the government move on to more pressing matters.

It said, "Tonight is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on, delivering on the people’s priorities.

"The PM welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs and will remind them that when they’re united and focused on the issues that matter to voters there is no more formidable political force."

The Cabinet has so far collectively stood by their leader, including UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, believed to be a frontrunner to the post of prime minsiter after Johnson.

She said, "The Prime Minister has my 100 per cent backing in today's vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him. He has delivered on Covid recovery and supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He has apologised for mistakes made. We must now focus on economic growth."

UK’s Chancellor Rishi Sunak took to Twitter to announce his support for Johnson, saying Johnson has shown the strong leadership the UK needs.

He said, "From the vaccine rollout to our response to Russian aggression, the PM has shown the strong leadership our country needs. I am backing him today and will continue to back him as we focus on growing the economy, tackling the cost of living and clearing the Covid backlogs."

Those believed to be in the running for leadership include former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat and UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, with others such as Sunak more reluctant since unwelcome headlines over his Indian wife Akshata Murty’s tax affairs.

(With PTI inpus)

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