Partygate 3: Scotland Yard steps in

The Partygate scandal is gathering momentum: Boris Johnson allegedly held a birthday party at 10 Downing Street at a time when private indoor meetings were prohibited. The government has not denied this, and Scotland Yard has initiated investigations against the PM. Commentators agree that much damage has been done - but not about whether Johnson will be forced to step down because of it.

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The Times (GB) /

A degradation of all personal sacrifices

Journalist Alice Thomson writes in The Times:

“Boris Johnson has made us all look like idiots - why on earth did we stick so rigidly to all the rules? ...I'm having conversations again with friends, acquaintances and readers who never said goodbye to their dying parents, children or spouses, who missed their baby's birth, whose cancer spread because they didn't want to bother their GP, yet meanwhile Carrie Johnson appeared determined to celebrate the prime minister's 56th birthday with a cake and M&S nibbles. Most of us are desperate to move on as the pandemic recedes but can't until the police have investigated.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Britons facing a double hangover

The damage to the country grows with each passing day, comments Die Welt's London correspondent Stefanie Bolzen:

“Instead of putting all their efforts into recovering from the pandemic, instead of navigating the country into a new post-Brexit era, the government and parliament are constantly bickering over new details about who might have broken the self-imposed Covid rules and when and where they were broken. ... The Conservative PM promised the nation all kinds of things with his slogan 'Let's get Brexit done'. But none of it has been implemented ... . When 'Partygate' comes to an end, the country will wake up with a double hangover: the departure of a prime minister who has damaged the reputation of the highest government office - and the entire country to boot.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Not the time for navel-gazing

The prime minister has been left weakened by the scandal, NRC Handelsblad believes, fearing international consequences:

“Johnson's apparent lack of control over his own destiny is also damaging his office. If political decisions at home - be they about plans to reform the BBC or asylum policy - are seen as populist attempts to save the prime minister, he will be a lame duck. And this at a time when a strong Britain with a PM who is taken seriously is needed on the world stage. It is a problem when one of the few major military powers in Europe is so focused on its own affairs at a time when war threatens to break out on the external borders.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Distraction from pressing government work

Britain should hurry up and get the whole matter settled, The Daily Telegraph urges:

“This needs to be brought to a speedy conclusion for the good of the country. If the police have no objection to Ms Gray's report being published (in full) when it is concluded there need be no further delay. Equally the police should expedite their investigation, not let it drag on for weeks, involving dozens of officers who have better things to do. ... Moreover, there are pressing issues confronting the country that need stability, not least the threat of war in eastern Europe. The great danger of 'partygate' is that it is a huge distraction from the day-to-day requirements of governance.”

Der Standard (AT) /

The party isn't over yet

Now it's up to Johnson's Conservative Party, analyses Der Standard:

“If the polls are to be trusted, the public has long since passed its verdict on the 57-year-old: the majority of Britons consider their prime minister to be unreliable, deceitful and unfit to lead the country. ... But it is the Conservative parliamentary group in the House of Commons that decides his fate. Only if a majority of these 359 men and women are fed up with the big winner of the most recent House of Commons election will Johnson's final hour have come.”