British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced his first parliamentary session after being fined for celebrating his birthday in the midst of a pandemic and has received a barrage of criticism from the opposition, which has called for his resignation.
The head of government, who also received criticism from his own ranks, has maintained a script similar to that of previous appearances to justify the Downing Street party scandal and has repeatedly expressed his “absolute apologies” for having violated the restrictions that he himself dictated to curb the effects of the coronavirus.RELATED
At the same time, he has assured that he was not aware that he was breaking the rules and has stressed his intention to “move forward” as head of the Government.
“If I had any respect for the millions (of Britons) who sacrificed everything to comply with the rules, I would resign”, said the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, who has described the prime minister as “a man without shame”. Ian Blackford, spokesman for the Scottish National Party, the third party in the House of Commons, has argued that “trust in the prime minister has been broken and can never be regained.”
The opposition accuses Johnson of having deceived the deputies when he assured in December that the rules were not broken in Downing Street. Now admitting that the restrictions were breached, he is required to abide by the parliamentary code that provides for a prime minister to resign if he is shown to have deliberately lied to the House of Commons, something he has repeatedly denied.
On Thursday, the opposition will propose an official investigation into whether the head of government knowingly lied, although for the motion to prosper, dozens of conservative deputies would have to rebel, making up a comfortable majority.
The prime minister paid a penalty of 50 pounds (60 euros) last week for meeting his wife, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, and other government employees at the Cabinet Office in June 2020 to celebrate his 56th birthday. , a meeting that took place around two in the afternoon and that according to Johnson lasted less than ten minutes.
“Let me say, not as a mitigating factor or as an excuse, but because it explains my earlier words in this House, that I did not think, then or later, that a meeting in the Cabinet room just before a meeting on COVID strategy could be a violation of the rules”, Johnson emphasized this Tuesday in the parliamentary session.
The absolute majority that the Conservatives have in the Commons means that the prime minister can only be removed by his own co-religionists. Despite the fact that the impulse towards an internal rebellion has weakened in recent months, some ‘Tories’ have once again publicly criticized Johnson.
Conservative Mark Harper, who already led an attempted revolt in January and who chaired a group of deputies opposed to restrictions during the pandemic, was the most angry voice against Johnson. “We have a prime minister who broke the laws that he himself had asked the country to comply with,” said Harper, to emphasize that “I no longer think he is worthy of the great position he occupies.”
Johnson plans to travel to India this week, a crucial visit for his foreign policy that he has already postponed twice due to COVID-19. Downing Street, however, is evaluating the possibility of suspending his trip to avoid his absence in Parliament on Thursday, when this issue will be debated again.