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Sunday July 03, 2022

Boris Johnson defies calls to quit over ‘Partygate’

By AFP
May 26, 2022

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defiantly rejected calls to resign after an internal inquiry on Wednesday found he presided over a culture of lockdown-breaking parties that ran late into the night and even featured a drunken fight among staff.

Johnson is among dozens of people in Downing Street to have received police fines for breaching Covid regulations — making Number 10 the most penalised address in Britain.

“I really think that given everything that´s going on right now, it´s my job to get on and serve the people of this country,” Johnson said at a press conference. He had already rebuffed calls to quit after receiving the police fine in April.

“That does not mean that I don´t accept responsibility for the totality of what happened and, yes, I bitterly regret it,” he noted.But he said it was now time to focus on people´s “priorities”, including Ukraine and a spiralling cost-of-living crisis in Britain.

Hours earlier, he faced a barrage of criticism from opposition MPs in parliament in response to the long-awaited report by senior civil servant Sue Gray, insisting: “I am humbled, and I have learned.”

Johnson argued he was absent from most of the events probed, and denied ever lying to lawmakers or urging Gray privately to bury her 37-page report.But the main opposition Labour party said the “catalogue of criminality” revealed by her report vindicated its demands for the prime minister to quit.

“You cannot be a lawmaker and a law-breaker,” Labour leader Keir Starmer told Johnson.“It’s time to pack his bags,” added Starmer, who has vowed to quit himself if fined by police in northeast England for an alleged breach of the Covid regulations during an election campaign meeting.

Gray’s damning account of the so-called “Partygate”scandal included photographs of Johnson toasting staff with wine and described revelling that sometimes stretched into the early hours to music from a karaoke machine.

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