London police are launching investigations into British government headquarters

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Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of Great Britain, leaves Downing Street © Stefan Rousseau / dpa

The pressure on Great Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is growing: the London police have launched investigations into parties at the British seat of government during the corona lockdown.

Police Chief Cressida Dick said on Tuesday that there were “possible violations of the corona rules” at “a number of events” in Downing Street and in the government district. The prime minister has so far refused to resign because of the party scandal.

The fact that an investigation is now under way does not mean that everyone involved ultimately received a fine, stressed Police Chief Dick. At the time of the parties, violations were punishable by fines, and criminal proceedings could be instituted against persistent repeat offenders.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan of the opposition Labor Party welcomed the police investigation. “No one is above the law. There can’t be one rule for the government and another for everyone else,” he said.

Johnson has been under pressure for weeks because of new reports about parties at the seat of government Downing Street, despite the strict corona lockdown rules in force at the time. Most recently, broadcaster ITV News revealed on Monday that Johnson celebrated his birthday with a party on June 19, 2020 during lockdown. Up to 30 guests were present. At that time, outdoor gatherings of only six people were allowed. According to a Downing Street spokeswoman, Johnson attended the celebration for “less than ten minutes”.

The head of government recently admitted in parliament that he had attended a garden party on May 20, 2020 and apologized. At that time, meetings of more than two people, even outdoors, were prohibited due to the pandemic.

A handful of Tory MPs have already openly called for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister because of the reports. Overall, at least 15 percent of Tory MPs – that is 54 – would have to plead in a letter for such a vote.

If there were a vote of no confidence, it would take more than 50 percent of Tory MPs to bring down Johnson. If he survives the vote, no further no-confidence vote could be brought against him for a year.

Johnson and his government have so far rejected calls for his resignation. The prime minister referred to an internal investigation by government official Sue Gray, which he wanted to await.

Gray is due to present her report shortly and is in contact with police authorities, according to a Cabinet Office spokesman. Gray’s investigation is understood to also relate to allegations of Johnson’s birthday party.


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