LONDON — Awaiting a report into lockdown-breaking events in Downing Avenue that would pressure his resignation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was on the defensive Wednesday over one other situation — whether or not he licensed the evacuation of cats and canine from Afghanistan.
Mr. Johnson is approaching a vital second for his management as he prepares to publish findings from an inner inquiry carried out by a civil servant, Sue Grey, right into a string of gatherings held in Downing Avenue whereas Britons have been topic to strict coronavirus guidelines.
On Wednesday in Parliament, Mr. Johnson rejected requires him to stop, insisting that he was “getting on with the job.”
However the prime minister additionally got here underneath assault after an electronic mail was made public suggesting that he falsely denied his function within the rescue of cats and canine from Afghanistan by a British animal charity final yr as Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Mr. Johnson has dismissed as “nonsense” claims that he intervened within the evacuation of the Nowzad animal charity, run by Pen Farthing, a former member of the British navy, and had prioritized the protection of cats and canine over that of individuals.
These denials gave the impression to be contradicted by a message from a British diplomat made public on Wednesday by the Home of Commons Overseas Affairs Choose Committee.
The e-mail, written by an official working for Zac Goldsmith, a minister and shut ally of Mr. Johnson, stated that the animal rescue charity “had obtained lots of publicity” and famous that the prime minister “has simply licensed their employees and animals to be evacuated.”
John Healey, who speaks for the opposition Labour Celebration on protection points, stated on Wednesday that “as soon as once more, the prime minister has been caught out mendacity about what he has been doing and deciding.”
“He ought to by no means have given precedence to flying animals out of Afghanistan whereas Afghans who labored for our armed forces have been left behind,” Mr. Healey added in a press release.
The most recent blow to Mr. Johnson got here on a second day of confusion over the timing of the publication of Ms. Grey’s report.
Her findings can be submitted first to Downing Avenue earlier than they’re launched to the general public. Mr. Johnson has promised to then make a press release to Parliament, and plenty of Conservative lawmakers are ready for that earlier than they resolve whether or not to attempt to oust the prime minister.
A complete of 54 of them would want to ship letters to a senior colleague to set off a no-confidence vote within the prime minister.
Ominously for Mr. Johnson, the Metropolitan Police on Tuesday introduced that they’d now examine attainable breaches of the legislation in Downing Avenue based mostly on data shared by Ms. Grey.
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Her report is predicted this week, however Downing Avenue stated Wednesday that it wished reassurances that none of its contents would compromise the police inquiry when it’s made public. The launch of the police investigation steered that Ms. Grey had uncovered sufficient to make the report troublesome studying for Mr. Johnson and for a number of the civil servants who work for him.
The peril is especially acute for the prime minister as a result of he’s accused of deceptive Parliament over what he knew about gatherings in Downing Avenue, one thing that’s usually considered a resignation matter.
Mr. Johnson initially insisted that each one the coronavirus guidelines have been adopted, however, after a leak, he later admitted that he attended one occasion in his backyard throughout lockdown to which round 100 folks have been invited to “carry their very own booze.”
Mr. Johnson apologized over the incident, which occurred in Could 2020, however stated he thought he was attending a piece occasion.
Later revelations included one which, whereas Mr. Johnson was away, employees used a suitcase to herald alcohol for a celebration into Downing Avenue on the night earlier than the funeral of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. At that occasion a disco was arrange within the basement and the swing of Mr. Johnson’s toddler son was damaged as employees drank into the early hours, in line with media studies.
Extra dangerous information for Mr. Johnson emerged earlier this week when ITV Information reported that as many as 30 folks ate cake within the Cupboard Room to rejoice Mr. Johnson’s birthday in June 2020.
Nonetheless supporters have rallied behind Mr. Johnson with some dismissing the birthday gathering as trivial. “He was, in a way, ambushed with a cake,” stated Conor Burns, a minister and ally of Mr. Johnson.