LONDON — The British police have opened an investigation into parties held at 10 Downing Street and other government offices during the coronavirus lockdown, an ominous development for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is trying to hold off a career-threatening challenge to his leadership over his handling of the scandal.
The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, confirmed on Tuesday that the police are investigating “a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations.” She declined to give further details.
This disclosure raises questions about the timing and location of a second crucial investigation, being conducted by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant. Officials had previously stated that they expected to release this report in the coming days. Mr. Johnson appealed for the support of Conservative lawmakers and the public to wait for the release.
Officials have said that a police investigation would delay the release of Ms. Gray’s report by days or even potentially weeks. That would hamper Mr. Johnson’s efforts to put the scandal behind him. Ms. Dick said the police investigation was opened as a result of information turned over by Ms. Gray’s inquiry.
The steady drip of disclosures about social gatherings — most recently news that Mr. Johnson’s wife Carrie Johnson and staff members threw him a surprise birthday party in June 2020, when such gatherings were forbidden — has seriously damaged the prime minister’s position. The Downing Street police officers are in a unique position to monitor staff members’ movements.
Unknown number have sent confidential letters to the prime minister requesting a vote. If the number exceeds 54, Johnson would face such an election, which analysts believe would cripple Johnson’s leadership, even if he wins a majority.
Source: NY Times