British Prime Minister Johnson faces new ‘party gate’ claims ahead of India visit – Times of India


LONDON : British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces new allegations on Monday surrounding ‘partygate’, the scandal surrounding government officials breaking coronavirus rules with illegal lockdown gatherings, and will hope to escape some of the heat when he leaves for India on Thursday.
Johnson has already been fined for such a party, ahead of his birthday in June 2020 when his wife Carrie brought a cake to the Cabinet Room and has also been fined along with British Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
However, British media reports say Johnson has been linked to about six of the 12 lockdown parties under police investigation.
The Sunday Times quoted a source as saying that a farewell drinks gathering for outgoing Number 10 Downing Street communications director, Lee Cain, in November 2020 was allegedly “initiated” by Johnson.
“He said he wanted to say a few words to Lee and started pouring drinks for people and drinking himself. He made a toast to him,” the source said.
It has led to renewed calls from the opposition for Johnson, 57, to resign. Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labor Party, said that “if the latest reports are true”, this means that “the Prime Minister not only attended parties, but he had a hand in inciting at least one of them” .
Rayner accused him of deliberately misleading the British people “at any time”.
She added: “While the British public made huge sacrifices, Boris Johnson was breaking the law.
“The Prime Minister has humiliated his office. The British people deserve better. While Labor has a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, Tory MPs are too busy defending Boris Johnson’s indefensible actions.”
While Downing Street has maintained it will not comment on the matter until Scotland Yard’s investigation into the matter is completed, Johnson hopes to divert attention from the matter when Parliament returns Tuesday after the Easter recess with other urgent matters.
The conflict in Ukraine and his planned two-day visit to India, starting with Gujarat on Thursday, will be among the topics he will focus on in parliament.
“As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together. India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times,” Johnson said ahead of his April 21-22 visit.
“My visit to India will deliver the things that really matter to the people of both our countries – from job creation and economic growth to energy security and defence,” he said.
This week’s visit, Johnson’s first as UK Prime Minister, begins Thursday in Ahmedabad with investment announcements in key industries in both the UK and India.
He will then head to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, where the focus will be on strategic defense between India and the UK and diplomatic and economic partnership. According to officials from both sides, Johnson will also use his visit to India to advance the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations that started earlier this year.

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