UK Labour Leader Starmer on 'Partygate': 'I Think PM Johnson Broke the Law'
09:55 GMT 16.01.2022 (Updated: 12:55 GMT 16.01.2022)
UK PM Boris Johnson is currently under fire over what has already been named "partygate": a series of alleged parties that took place on Downing Street at a time when the United Kingdom was under strict coronavirus restrictions.
The leader of the UK opposition Labour Party Keir Starmer has asserted that Boris Johnson "broke the law" and lied about the alleged Downing Street lockdown parties, according to the BBC.
"I think he broke the law. I think he's as good as admitted that he broke the law", Starmer told the BBC, commenting on the prime minister's recent apology to the UK Parliament for attending one such event. "I think he then lied about what had happened".
The Labour leader was also asked about one of his own gatherings with his party staff when he was photographed drinking beer with them. With regard to this, Starmer said there is "no comparison" between this picture and the materials covering Downing Street garden drinks during the lockdown.
"I was in a constituency office just days before the election. We were working, we stopped for something to eat and then we carried on working. No party, no breach of the rules, and absolutely no comparison with the prime minister", he said, commenting on the picture.
Starmer referred to Johnson's speech in parliament on Wednesday when the prime minister said he has to "take responsibility" over the alleged parties on Downing Street, adding there were "things we simply did not get right".
"When I went into that garden just after six on 20 May 2020, to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event", Johnson said at the time, immediately triggering even more public outrage.
The backlash continued to arrive, with several apologies - from Johnson, Downing Street, and one of the ex-No 10 staffers whose departure was the occasion for one of the alleged parties - not appearing to smooth things up. The scandal evolved into what is known as "partygate", with UK citizens demanding accountability over a slew of events that took place at Downing Street in 2020 and 2021 and were deemed to be parties in the middle of the strict coronavirus lockdowns.
Most recently, the pile of damning allegations has been replenished with claims that Downing Street staffers had their traditional "wine-time Fridays"
despite the restrictions, even investing in a wine fridge.
As "partygate" continues to steal headlines and make waves in the media, it is not only Labour officials who have been quick to castigate the prime minister. Several Tory officials have already suggested that the only way to tackle the scandal is for Boris Johnson to resign
. Other party officials were less straightforward, only demanding an effective response.
"We need to find out the facts and then the prime minister needs to respond effectively and to address the culture in Downing Street", Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden told Sky News on Sunday.
The scandalous party allegations appeared to help Labour gain some approval, according to pollster Savanta ComRes, which saw the group add 5 points jumping to 42% of the vote while the Conservatives fell one point to 32% (as of Thursday and Friday).