‘Failures of leadership and judgment’: Should British PM Boris Johnson resign over ‘partygate’ scandal?
- United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was inducted into the position on July 24, 2019. He was a primary supporter of the “Leave” campaign during Brexit, and mayor of London for eight years before his position as prime minister.
- Prime Minister Johnson apologized after a report was released over the “partygate” scandal asserting, “I get it, and I will fix it.” Allegations of his behavior during COVID restrictions have led to the public and conservatives “to call for Johnson’s resignation.”
- An investigation into government gatherings during COVID restrictions was published on January 31, 2022, detailing government members’ conduct in public and private meetings. The report says, “There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No. 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place.”
- As of January 31, 2022, the 48.4 million people in the United Kingdom have been fully vaccinated while 52.3 million have one dose. Since the start of the pandemic up to February 1, 2022, the United Kingdom has had over 17 million COVID cases and close to 156,000 COVID-related deaths.
The British opposition is upset that prime minister Boris Johnson held several parties in the garden of Downing Street during the first COVID outbreak in May 2020. But it is important to understand that this event occurred nearly 18 months ago; the information being released by the media is confusing, turning out to be more of a 'he said, she said' situation. No doubt there were parties at Downing Street, but Prime Minister Johnson has repeatedly stated that they were business meetings rather than pure social gatherings.
The Prime Minister has been questioned extensively by British police for 'partygate,' but more than a year later, he has not been charged with a crime. No one died or was admitted to a hospital as a result of COVID-19. In fact, the party was held outside in the garden area, where risk of COVID transmission is low. The police's only conclusion was that alcohol was served, and no rules were broken. The Prime Minister has stated that Britain has many other major issues to worry about, including the impending war in Ukraine, the ongoing COVID pandemic, the high unemployment, the rising inflation, massive increase in crime, and illegal immigration. All of these are far more important matters that need to be dealt with ahead of the parties at Downing Street.
In Britain, like the US, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court, and again, no charges have been laid against the prime minister. It sounds too premature to ask him to resign without being found guilty. So far, it appears that this is a political vendetta by the prime minister's political opponents.
Throughout the lockdowns and restrictions of 2020 and 2021, sick and elderly people in care homes and hospitals across the United Kingdom were denied visits from families and loved ones due to government-mandated policies aimed at shielding them from the virus. Weddings, birthday parties, Christmas celebrations were canceled, and the economy took an enormous hit, except, apparently those at the top of government. The thought of one not being able to hug a grandmother before her death, yet finding out the people who drafted these rules were partying unrestricted, is gut-wrenching. These policymakers must be accounted for, which is why Prime minister Boris Johnson must resign.
Because the optics of the PM and his fellow officials partying while across the nation loved ones died alone and without comfort from families is appalling enough, the real problem with 'partygate' is how it’s caused both the nation and members of Prime Minister Johnson's own party to lose faith in his leadership. Public trust in leadership is essential to a well-functioning society. Without it, citizens won't trust that the government has their best interest at heart if further variants arise that require restrictions. This impacts public safety as citizens might not follow necessary restrictions if they know their higher officials have flouted their own rules.
With serious challenges, including inflation, relations with Europe, and Russian aggression facing the UK, it is paramount the populace believe their elected leaders are operating in good faith; this trust comes from accountability. The standards must be the same for everyone: from the Prime Minister to the citizens in which he serves. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has violated the public trust in such an egregious manner that he must be held accountable through resignation.