- Boris Johnson’s attendance at a lockdown-breaking party is becoming a global story.
- The narrative has broken out of UK media circles to make front pages elsewhere.
- Johnson on Wednesday admitted attending the party and issued a humbling apology.
Boris Johnson’s struggle to handle allegations that he breached the UK lockdown rules he himself imposed has in recent days become a global story.
Newspapers across Europe and the US were openly questioning whether the prime minister will be forced to resign, a sign that the scandal has burst out beyond the sometimes-insular world of UK politics.
“The party is over,” declared French newspaper Libération in a piece which noted how the prime minister had already been “weakened by a series of parties organised at his home.” For French newspaper Le Monde, Johnson’s future was “in jeopardy.”
Johnson also faced criticism in the pages of centre-right German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which ran an opinion piece saying the scandal highlighted the prime minister’s “irresponsibility.”
“In essence, it is about the question of whether a government has to live by the rules that it sets itself,” the piece said.
“In Great Britain we are used to the elite taking some liberties. But of course rules and laws apply to everyone there too.”
The prime minister is facing the most dangerous point in his premiership after he was reported to have attended a party in the garden of his Downing Street residence in May 2020 during a national lockdown which banned mixing in groups.
He offered a “heartfelt apology” on Wednesday for attending the gathering and said he believed it was a work event.
A leaked email obtained by ITV News showed that Martin Reynolds, the prime minister’s senior aide, had invited more than 100 people to the “bring your own booze” event.
Anne McElvoy, a senior editor at The Economist, noted that Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner was invited onto Austrian TV news to discuss the situation.
—Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) January 11, 2022
El País, one of the most widely read newspapers in Spain, ran a piece under the headline: “The scandal of a new party in Downing Street in the heat of a pandemic corners Johnson.”
“The Downing Street party scandal, when the rest of the country was in severe lockdown from the pandemic, accumulates hard evidence with each passing day and is wearing out the patience of many Conservative MPs with their prime minister,” it said.
The scandal is also making headlines in the US: The Washington Post ran an opinion piece by UK journalist Ian Birrell under the headline: “The latest ‘Partygate’ revelations may prove too much even for the great escapologist Boris Johnson.”