Will Partygate bring Johnson down?
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under intense pressure in recent days following reports of Christmas parties that allegedly took place last year during the lockdown at the British seat of government. Now a photo has emerged that purportedly shows Johnson himself - flanked by colleagues - taking part in a Christmas online quiz. Europe's press avidly discusses the potential consequences of the scandal.
Supporters' tolerance is waning
Even Johnson's own party is running out of patience with him, De Morgen notes:
“The strong evidence that Downing Street was the scene of several parties during the lockdown last autumn is not going down well in the country, where Covid policies are based on trust in the state and respect for its measures. It is also gnawing away at the authority of those in power. ... The charismatic lone wolf PM has never been loved by those in his faction, but as long as he managed to win elections they've been willing to put up with him. ... Now that Labour has a significant lead in the polls, this tolerance is slowly coming to an end. Johnson looks very much like a weak leader guided by yes-men.”
PM on thin ice
The Kleine Zeitung also believes that Johnson's political survival depends on the behaviour of his party:
“Yes, the week could have gone better. But it could get even worse. A rebellion among Tory backbenchers and even ministers is looming. The prime minister is under increasing pressure on numerous fronts. At the same time, it is precisely the fight against the virus that requires his full attention right now. But instead all his time is being consumed by a self-inflicted political crisis. The prime minister is facing hard times. Whether he will survive them remains questionable.”
Johnson on shaky ground along with Covid policy
If the new restrictions fail because of the scandal, Johnson will be in even more trouble, El Mundo predicts:
“Given the threat of dozens of Tory MPs who disagree with the new restrictions for combating the effects of the omicron variant rebelling in parliament, and given the alarming rise in infections, the revelations, if confirmed, would be a scandal that would badly affect Johnson's own political stability. ... It will be very difficult for the prime minister to win the trust of the British nation in the fight against the new wave of infections because few will put their faith in measures that the prime minister himself has so blatantly disregarded.”
All the better for Ireland
The British government's current weakness could work in Ireland's favour regarding the negotiations on the Northern Ireland protocol, The Irish Independent hopes:
“We can trust that our keen Irish officials and diplomats, who have so far done very well in fighting Ireland's case in a post-Brexit world since June 2016, are keenly contemplating current developments in UK politics. It is never our diplomats', officials' or political leaders' role to comment on the out-workings of a neighbour's political travails. But an early exit by Mr Johnson could offer changes paving the way to a good Brexit outcome for Ireland, north and south. Already, the UK has made important Brexit concessions which can be built upon by quiet and dogged diplomacy.”