Boris Johnson apologizes but refuses to resign

An apology, but not resignation. Boris Johnson was determined on Tuesday, April 12, to stay in power, after being fined for a birthday party in violation of anti-Covid rules, an unprecedented sanction for a British prime minister in office. A time in an ejection seat in January due to this crisis known as “partygate”, the conservative leader now seems protected by the war in Ukraine that cools the ardor among the majority of those who, out there a little, said they were willing to evict themselves. to the.

The punishment, announced by Downing Street on Tuesday, is, however, a severe setback for Boris Johnson, who not only broke the law but also took the risk of claiming that he had done nothing illegal in Parliament during outings, aperitifs in the Parlament. sun and other parties celebrated during confinement and revealed in recent months by the press. He declared on television that he had paid the fine and presented “full apology” for this surprise birthday that lasted, according to him, “less than ten minutes” on June 19, 2020, in the Hall of the Council of Ministers, for his 56th birthday. “I must say frankly that it did not seem to me, at the time, that I could break the rules”he pleaded.

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if he assured “Understanding anger”brushed aside calls for resignation, launched in particular by Labor Party leader Keir Starmer and Scotland’s first independence minister, Nicola Sturgeon. “Now I want to continue and fulfill the mandate that is mine”he explained, citing the economy and the war in Ukraine.

His finance minister, Rishi Sunak, and his wife, Carrie Johnson, were also fined for party infractions in power circles in 2020 and 2021. At the time, Britons were told to drastically reduce their social interactions to combat the spread of Covid-19. . Carrie Johnson, sanctioned for the same act as her husband, “apologize unreservedly”even if she thought “act within the rules” his spokesman said. “I deeply regret the frustration and anger caused and I’m sorry”said, for his part, Rishi Sunak, rejecting any resignation.

No vote of confidence

Aware of popular anger, several Conservative MPs had openly spoken out a few months ago in favor of Boris Johnson’s departure, but the rebels were not numerous enough to trigger a motion of no confidence. Today, Boris Johnson benefits from a favorable context, the international crisis around Ukraine dissuades parliamentarians from his conservative camp from trying to remove him.

Conservative MP Roger Gale said he was not “I am not about to give Vladimir Putin the satisfaction of thinking that we are about to topple the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and destabilize the coalition against Putin”. Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross, who once called for Boris Johnson to resign, eventually opposed the move as well. “It would destabilize the UK when we need to be united in the face of Russian aggression”.

The parliamentary recess saves Boris Johnson from annoying questions from the opposition, at least until debates resume on Tuesday. Finally, Rishi Sunak, who was pointed out as a possible successor to Boris Johnson, is sanctioned and weakened by the revelations about his and his wife’s tax situation.

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More than 50 fines in this case

But the prime minister is weakened and has seen his popularity erode, he who triumphantly came to power in July 2019. A majority of Britons (57%) believe he should resign, according to a YouGov poll of 2,464 Britons after the announcement of the fine.

An internal preliminary report had already pointed out “Errors in Leadership and Judgment” in this case, pointing the finger at unwarranted meetings and alcohol consumption on the job. In total, the police issued more than 50 fines for non-compliance with anti-Covid regulations in this case, without specifying the names of the recipients.

For the association of families in mourning for the Covid-19 pandemic, Bereaved Families for Justice, there is no “It simply means that the Prime Minister or the Chancellor [Rishi Sunak] can continue [à exercer] ».

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Le Monde and AFP

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