Politics

Newest Boris Johnson images deliver Partygate scandal again into focus | Boris Johnson


Over the just about six months of Partygate, the identical narrative has performed out repeatedly: simply as Boris Johnson appears to have put the saga behind him, new photographs emerge to refocus everybody’s minds, with a corrosive impact on the prime minister’s picture and scores.

Last Thursday when the Metropolitan police inquiry formally closed with only one high quality for Johnson, Conservative MPs have been exchanging admiring – or in some circumstances exasperated – messages about how the “greased piglet” had slipped free but once more.

There was nonetheless the full report to return from the senior civil servant Sue Gray. But supporters of the prime minister have been clear – a single high quality for a short look at an impromptu birthday celebration didn’t advantage a management problem. Time to maneuver on.

The Daily Mail headline on Friday shouted: “What a farcical waste of time and £460,000.”

Just three days on, images exhibiting Johnson in a packed room elevating his glass and making a speech in the course of the leaving drinks of the previous communications chief Lee Cain on 13 November 2020 make the prime minister’s life troublesome once more in a number of interconnected methods.

Partygate: Boris Johnson beneath contemporary scrutiny after new occasion footage emerge – video report

Even after Gray submits her report, Johnson faces an inquiry by a committee of MPs into whether or not he misled the Commons when he mentioned he knew nothing about social gatherings – an offence which, if demonstrated, would usually result in resignation.

The images notably weaken Johnson’s defence, not least given a parliamentary change from final December during which the prime minister, when requested by the Labour MP Catherine West about occasions on the date in query, insisted “the rules were followed at all times”.

More broadly, images and different photographs appear to resonate with voters in a approach that even repeated descriptions of suitcases of alcohol being wheeled into No 10, and Wilfred Johnson’s swing damaged by drunken revellers, don’t.

The first time Johnson took allegations of lockdown breaking with full seriousness was in December, when ITV News obtained footage of No 10 workers joking about an obvious occasion whereas rehearsing for deliberate televised press briefings.

ITV screengrab of party attended by Boris Johnson
The images seem to weaken Johnson’s defence of guidelines ‘being followed at all times’. Photograph: ITV

That similar night, the video was being mocked on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!. The subsequent day, Johnson’s press secretaryAllegra Stratton tearfully resigned for her function within the video, whereas the PM hurriedly mentioned he was “shocked” at what it confirmed.

While the next weeks introduced significantly extra, extremely detailed descriptions of what had taken place on the occasion joked about by Stratton and colleagues, and a collection of different events, occasions took a brand new impetus with the discharge of one other resonant picture.

First printed by the Guardian on 19 December, the picture of Johnson and greater than a dozen No 10 workers sitting within the Downing Street backyard on the night of 15 May 2020 together with wine bottles and a cheese platter reimprinted occasions on the general public consciousness.

It is testomony to the ability of a single, barely grainy {photograph} that although police determined to not examine that exact gathering, seemingly on the premise it may represent a piece assembly, the concept of “wine and cheese” stays central to many individuals’s recollections of the perceived wrongdoing.

Unsurprisingly, polls monitoring Johnson’s approval scores notably fell extra steeply into the adverse across the time the video and movie got here out.

The fear for Johnson is that even when he evades any extra official punishment, the newest damaging photographs will additional hit his fame, probably main the Conservatives to lose byelections going down subsequent month in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton.

A first-rate minister mired in scandal is one factor, and arguably not fully surprising for Johnson. But his MPs could also be much less forgiving in the event that they imagine he’s changing into an electoral legal responsibility. And one factor appears sure: the images of Johnson holding a glass aloft will likely be closely utilized in Labour and Lib Dem leaflets.




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