UK's Johnson Unlikely to 'Survive' Tory Probe Into Downing Street Parties, Expert Says

© REUTERS / UK PARLIAMENT/JESSICA TAYLORBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson listens during the weekly question time debate at Parliament in London, Britain, January 19, 2022.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson listens during the weekly question time debate at Parliament in London, Britain, January 19, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.01.2022
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BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is unlikely to come out unscathed from an internal investigation by the Conservatives into a string of parties allegedly held at 10 Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdown, Francis John Cole, a former top EU civil servant and author, has told Sputnik.
Last week, Johnson faced renewed calls to resign following fresh reports that his staff had thrown parties on 16 April 2021, the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, when the United Kingdom was still under strict COVID-19 restrictions.
"The present situation is very bad for Boris Johnson. There are many reasons for it, but the worst is probably that he has agreed to an internal enquiry within the Conservative party ... Boris will probably not survive the enquiry," Cole says, stating that the results will be known this Friday.
The expert notes that calls for Johnson's resignation are being heard from both sides of the political aisle, including among Conservative lawmakers from Northern England.

"There have been many requests for resignation; the Labour opposition, of course, has capitalised on this issue. Inside the Conservative party, the opposition to Boris built first of all among the 'Red Wallers', the new MPs who gained Labour seats in the North of England mainly, that had never been Tory. Boris had promised them to level up these depressed regions and finance economic development, but the young 'Red Wall' MPs don’t trust Boris anymore," Cole explains.

The former EU official points out that if push comes to shove, Johnson is likely to be succeeded by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, although other candidates are plausible, such as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Minister for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly, Minister for Trade Policy Penny Mordaunt and several others.
A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing during the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Update in the House of Commons in London on December 15, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.01.2022
We Shall Fight Them on the Benches: Johnson Responds on Whether He’ll Resign Over Partygate
Johnson and his wife reportedly attended one of the parties, which would have been held at a time when outdoor group gatherings were banned in the United Kingdom.
The prime minister repeatedly denied in the past that any COVID-19 rules had been broken on Downing Street, following reports of other parties held by his staff when indoor mixing was banned.
Johnson's former chief adviser Dominic Cummings has accused him of lying to parliament, Johnson having said that he thought the party held in the Downing Street garden during the first lockdown was work-related.
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