Too Early For Johnson's Downfall, But There Are Some Warning Signs
PM Boris Johnson may have finally encountered a crisis that could seriously threaten his leadership. The crisis is a Christmas party. Serious doubts have been cast on the probe into the 'Christmas party scandal', or 'party gate' with UK's senior most civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, will no longer investigate the Downing Street lockdown Christmas parties in 2020 in breach of covid-19 lockdowns. Case has stepped down because two rule-breaking parties were allegedly held at his office. Another civil servant Sue Gray, will now lead the investigation.
Gray will investigate three Christmas parties organised by government-staff in 2020 that broke covid-19 protocols took place on Downing Street on November 27, December 15 and December 18 and one at the education department that took place on 10 in 2020. During the period, the country was under tier 3 restrictions, which banned parties and social gatherings.
It all started when a video showing Johnson's senior aides joking about breaking lockdown rules to attend a Christmas party, December 18 was leaked online. The same day, over 400 covid-19 deaths were reported. The leaked video led to criticism from the public and the opposition over the conservative government flouting covid-19 protocols, especially when due to the restricts, many people had been unable to celebrate Christmas. The video obtained by iTV News featured former government spokeswoman Allegra Stratton, later resigned from the post. Meanwhile, UK newspaper Sunday mirror had reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had himself organised a quiz at 10 Downing Street last Christmas despite the lockdown. Johnson has repeatedly said no rules were broken at Downing Street.
The big picture is that Boris Johnson has faced a torrid few weeks which have left his party jittery. The list is long, the handling of sleaze allegations, the record Tory rebellion in the Commons, the loss of an incredibly safe seat, the continued fallout from allegation of Christmas parties in Whitehall. All eyes are on Johnson and his scruffy cover-up of party gate, as last Christmas catches up with him. The probe of the covid-rule breaking Christmas parties of 2020 has now changed hands under the lengthening shadow of Omicron.
There is still a long way to go - Johnson's come back from a few public defeats - but the cracks in his leadership are beginning to show. A lot of his support from his own party came from the perception that he was popular with the public. But if Johnson and the conservatives still see support dropping into 2022-long past Christmas party season - Johnson's troubles may be much longer than last year's parties at Downing.
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