• Sunday, November 27, 2022

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Sunak admits attending Downing Street lockdown party

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has admitted to attending prime minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown birthday party in 2020 but refused to say what happened when he entered the room and claimed that he was there for a meeting to discuss the Covid-19 situation.

His comments came after Johnson’s five aides, including longstanding policy chief Munira Mirza, chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, principal private secretary Martin Reynolds and communications director Jack Doyle, resigned from their posts within hours of each other on Thursday (3).

They stepped down after a damning investigation revealed that multiple parties took place at Downing Street while the rest of the United Kingdom was living under strict Covid-19 lockdown rules.

  • Sunak, who lives next door to the prime minister in Downing Street, is also reported to have attended a surprise birthday party for Johnson in No. 10’s Cabinet Room in June 2020.
  • He admitted to attending Johnson’s lockdown birthday party in 2020 but refused to say what happened when he entered the room, the Mirror newspaper reported.
  • The chancellor said that he was in the Cabinet Room for Johnson’s lockdown birthday party but insisted he was there for a meeting to discuss the Covid-19 situation.

He acknowledged that the scandal surrounding parties during lockdown at Downing Street has damaged the public’s trust in the government, the BBC reported.

He, however, said that he believed his plans to deal with the cost of living crisis would help restore it.

Sunak, 41, insisted that Johnson, who is facing growing calls for his resignation, has his “full support.”

Dismissing talk of him replacing Johnson, Sunak said that the prime minister had always told the truth about the parties.

Yes, of course he does. He is the prime minister of the United Kingdom,” he said.

Asked whether the parties held in violation of Covid-19 lockdown rules damaged the public’s confidence in the government, Sunak said: “Yes, I think it has. I can appreciate people’s frustration. And I think it’s now the job of all of us in government, all politicians, to restore people’s trust.”

As an embattled Johnson faces intense pressure to step down from the opposition and even the Conservative MPs, but some Tory MPs believe that Sunak, as one of the most powerful figures in the government, is the frontrunner to replace Johnson.

But Sunak dismissed such talks.

Well, that’s very kind of them to suggest that. But what I think people want from me is to focus on my job.

I know a few of my colleagues have said that and they’ll have their reasons for doing that. But I don’t think that’s the situation we’re in. The prime minister has my full support,” he told the BBC.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (L) and Britain's Prime Minister Boris (R)
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (L) and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Asked whether he would run to be the next Tory leader and prime minister, should there be a vacancy, Sunak said: “No, that’s not what I’m focused on.”

Officers from the Met Police are investigating a total of 12 Downing Street parties.

It is believed that as many as six of those could have been attended by Johnson.

Sunak, the UK-born son of a pharmacist mother and a National Health Service general practitioner father, is an Oxford University and Stanford graduate.

The MP for Richmond in Yorkshire first entered the UK Parliament in 2015 and has quickly risen up the Tory party ranks as a staunch Brexiteer, who had backed Johnson’s strategy to leave the European Union.

As the first Chancellor of the Exchequer of Indian origin, Sunak, also the son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, made history in February 2020, when he was appointed to the most important UK Cabinet post.

(PTI)

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