Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire / dpa
Boris Johnson apologizes for the recording and promises an investigation, but denies the alleged party
The advisor who speaks in the controversial video resigns as criticism rages even from the conservative side
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The leak of a fake press conference in which a Downing Street spokeswoman acknowledges and even jokes about holding a party in December 2020, contrary to the criteria set then to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, have returned to muddy the image of the Boris Johnson government as it prepares to adopt new measures to limit the expansion of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Downing Street has so far deflected criticism of the alleged party, which was attended by “dozens” of people on December 18, 2020, according to the BBC public broadcaster. The official doctrine then went through prohibiting indoor meetings except for members of the same family bubble and limiting contacts as much as possible.
However, the ITV network has released the images of a mock press conference in which the then Downing Street press chief, Allegra Stratton, is questioned about the meeting. Between jokes, he goes so far as to reply: “This fictitious party was a business meeting and there was no social distance.”
“There was no Christmas party. COVID regulations were followed at all times,” sources from the Prime Minister’s office, Boris Johnson, responded shortly before the ‘premier’ himself appeared in the House of Commons and also passed from tiptoe for the fact itself.
The ‘premier’ has confessed “furious” by the leaked video. “I understand and share the anger,” he said, acknowledging that it gives the impression that his office staff took the measures “lightly”.
Thus, he has apologized “without reservation”, but for the comments made by Stratton and other members of the team, since the official version continues to be that at no time were the sanitary recommendations violated. There will be an investigation and, “if necessary”, action will be taken, he added.
Stratton, the protagonist of the video, has announced that she will leave her post as a consultant, in an emotional statement to the media in which she has apologized to the British and has assured that she did not want to make fun of those who followed the rules. “I will regret those statements for the rest of my life,” he lamented.
CRITICS OF THE ‘TORIES’
The controversy has not pleased members of the Conservative Party who advocate that responsibilities be assumed at the highest level, with criticism even of the role of the prime minister. The Minister of Health, Sajid Javid, has canceled the interviews he planned to grant this Wednesday, the day on which the Executive expected to take his chest off the anniversary of the vaccination against COVID-19, according to ‘The Guardian’.
Among the most critical voices is that of the ‘Tory’ leader in Scotland, Douglas Ross, who has directly said that Johnson should resign if it is shown that he has lied to Parliament about the celebration of the alleged party.
The Labor leader, Keir Starmer, has criticized the government for acting in this way while all citizens “followed the rules, even if it meant being separated from their families.” He also recalled that many “could not say goodbye to their loved ones” and, before the House, has even cited the case of Queen Elizabeth II, forced to keep her distance at her husband’s funeral.
Meanwhile, the cabinet in charge of coordinating measures against the coronavirus is debating whether it is necessary to adopt new restrictions. The United Kingdom already accumulates 568 cases of the omicron variant – only this Wednesday 131 more have been confirmed – and on Tuesday it added more than 45,000 new positives to its general count since the start of the pandemic.
Among the measures on the table are the approval of a recommendation to work from home, a tightening of the use of masks or the implementation of some type of COVID certificate to control access to places with large crowds of people, all They are envisaged in what the Executive calls its ‘Plan B’, which it presented in September in case the situation worsened.
The scientific committee that advises the Government fears that if measures are not taken now, the number of people admitted by the omicron variant will exceed a thousand a day this month, according to BBC sources.