Boris Johnson Suddenly Sounds More Bullish on Covid ‘Partygate’
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson threw his weight behind his staff amid reports they broke pandemic rules by holding Christmas parties last year, in an apparent shift in tone with an investigation under way.
Only last week, Johnson had told Parliament he was “sickened” and “furious” over alleged gatherings in his Downing Street office last December and ordered an urgent probe by the U.K.’s top civil servant, Simon Case.
But asked again about the reports on Wednesday, Johnson went on the offensive, saying his officials had worked “blindingly hard for a very long time” in the pandemic and had tried their “best to keep people safe.”
“I think you completely mis-characterize the events in this place,” he told ITV News political editor Robert Peston, who had asked about “parties that took place” in Downing Street.
First reported by the Daily Mirror, the allegations -- dubbed ‘partygate’ by newspapers -- sparked fury in the ruling Conservative Party, at a time when Tory MPs were blaming Johnson for the Tories’ plunging poll ratings.
The furor also risks undermining efforts to tackle a surge in the new omicron Covid-19 strain, amid fears the reports of rule-breaking will lead to people ignoring new pandemic measures announced last week.
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