Boris Johnson: why is he in so much trouble and can his political career survive?
Boris Johnson spent the afternoon of Wednesday 22 March being questioned closely by a committee of Conservative and opposition MPs about a number of gatherings at 10 Downing Street that took place while the UK was in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. The events became known as the Partygate scandal.
What happened this week?
Johnson quit as prime minister of the UK on 7 July last year after a series of controversies the biggest of which was Partygate. In truth, his premiership, which began with a thumping national general election win for his Conservative party in December 2019, had been dogged by mishaps.
But Partygate was probably the biggest of the lot. And on Wednesday, Johnson was questioned about it by a committee of his fellow members of parliament. His future lies in their hands.
So what was Partygate, exactly?
The story began with the Guardians political editor, Pippa Crerar. In October 2021, when she was working for a different British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, she got a tipoff. She was told by one of her sources that Covid rules had been broken in No 10 Downing Street the home of the British prime minister. While the rest of the country had been abiding by lockdown rules to contain the coronavirus pandemic, some staff in Downing Street had been less observant. In fact, they had been gathering and drinking. Regularly.