Boris Johnson, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is bracing himself for a second day of intense questioning at the COVID inquiry, a follow-up to Wednesday's grueling five-hour session. The anticipated focus of the inquisition hovers around the infamous 'Partygate' scandal, involving allegations of get-togethers at 10 Downing Street that blatantly violated pandemic restrictions. The inquiry's mission is to unearth the details and scope of these alleged rule-breaking events, as Johnson and his staff stand accused of flouting the very rules they established for the public to control the virus spread.
'Partygate' Scandal: A Stain on Leadership Integrity
The scandal, which elicited significant public outrage, revolves around gatherings allegedly held at 10 Downing Street during the height of the pandemic. These events, if proven true, are flagrant violations of the restrictive measures put in place to contain the virus. The controversy has evolved into a major political issue, prompting questions about leadership integrity and accountability. The scandal was exposed in part by an ITV News video in December 2021, showing a senior Downing Street figure joking about having a Christmas party.
Former PM's Response: Apologies and Admissions
During the first day of the inquiry, Johnson offered an unreserved apology for the mistakes made during the handling of the crisis. Allegations against him include a reported statement wherein he expressed preference for letting 'the bodies pile high' rather than implementing a second lockdown in 2020. Johnson has denied these claims. But the former PM's apology was rejected by bereaved families, who described the 'Partygate' incident as a 'slap in the face'.
Expectations from the Inquiry
The inquiry aims to probe into allegations of a toxic and misogynistic culture in Downing Street, with Johnson defending himself by stating that he encouraged staff to speak their minds without fear of embarrassment. The two-day cross-examination seeks to address three main questions posed by lawyers representing the bereaved families: Why was there indecision and delay over lockdown? Was there a disregard for older people? And did the first lockdown come too late?