PMQs: Garden party 'apology' brings the Prime Minister's position into question once again

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Yesterday’s Prime Minister's Question Time was dominated by scathing criticism of the government after the Prime Minister finally admitted to attending a garden party during the height of lockdown. It comes after another round of damaging emails have sufaced, the latest of which show his principal secretary encouraging more than 100 staffers to attend a bring (their) own booze event at Downing Street.

Boris Johnson acknowledged the public's sacrifice during the peak of the pandemic, but his willingness to take accountability only as far as the rules people "think" were broken by him and the government, as well as his reliance on technicalities and insistence that it was a "work event," earned him harsh criticism.

He himself conceded that millions of people “would simply not see it that way” and within the chamber, that same ire was shared by members of the opposition.

Labour leader Keir Starmer drew parallels between the current furore and the resignations of former health secretary Matt Hancock, and government adviser Allegra Stratton, questioning “why the prime minister still thinks the rules don’t apply to him.” Starmer then urged him to quit, saying: “That code [ministerial] says ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation.

"The party’s over, prime minister. The only question is will the British public kick him out, will his party kick him out or will he do the decent thing and resign?"

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford later described the situation as an "open and shut case," and said Johnson was unfit to lead.

For almost 18 months, the opposition have narrowed in on examples of misleading statements, misuse of public funds, misconduct in public office, and cronyism. With every new revelation, the government is further mired in a state of perma-crisis.

How consequential it will be is still unknown, but it is important to remember that these headlines should not distract us from systemic issues (of which race inequality is one) that we will continue to shine a light on. Nevertheless, as public confidence in national leadership continues to wane, the impact of these scandals has already left its mark.

Mayowa Ayodele

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