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UK’s Johnson dismisses calls to resign over lockdown party

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will not resign from office following growing criticism over the news that his office held a series of rule-breaking parties during COVID-19 restrictions last year.

When asked by an opposition lawmaker on Wednesday if he would resign, Johnson responded with a “No,” Reuters reported.

Johnson, who a little over two years ago led the Tory party to its biggest election victory in almost 40 years, has been embroiled in the party scandal for weeks that has seen his approval ratings drop significantly. 

He said he thought the “bring your own booze” party on May 20, 2020, was a work event and added on Tuesday that nobody had told him the gathering was against COVID-19 rules, the newswire added.

The report added that Conservative lawmaker David Davis quoted an exchange from 1940 between lawmaker Leo Amery and then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain over his handling of war, in which he said, “You have sat there too long for the good you have done. In the name of God, go.”

Opposition leader Keir Starmer described the prime minister as a “pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road” and “without shame” and called on him to resign as well, The Independent added.

However, lawmakers are now contemplating whether to trigger a leadership challenge to Johnson, where 54 of the 360 Conservative members in Parliament must write letters of no confidence to the chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee, Reuters added.

Instead, Johnson announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions dubbed as “plan B” — including compulsory mask-wearing on public transport, in shops and more — starting next Thursday, The Guardian reported.

The reversal of rules has been seen as an attempt by Johnson to placate members of his party who are furious with reports of the Downing Street parties, the newspaper added.

“In the country at large we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, but we will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one,” Johnson told the U.K.’s House of Commons.

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