Inopportune or convenient timing? Has ‘Partygate’ been forgotten?

Amidst the Ukraine crisis, it is discussed whether the 'Partygate' investigation should be brought back into the limelight or left on the backburner

Ross Bennett
23rd March 2022
Downing Street Sign. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Only a short while ago, the lockdown-breaking parties at Number 10 were all anyone could talk about. Now the news cycle has moved on, but should it have?

In the past few weeks, the news media has been (rightfully) dominated by the ongoing situation in Ukraine. The events unfolding in Ukraine are an international crisis and the closest we’ve had to the beginnings of a World War in decades. Obviously, it is pertinent that the conflict does take centre stage but in doing so, Sue Gray's investigation into the holding of illegal parties at Number 10 during lockdown has disappeared from the headlines.

Only recently has the Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross withdrawn demands for Boris Johnson’s resignation over the ‘Partygate’ scandal, citing the war in Ukraine and stating the following: “There will be a time and place to debate Partygate but, as even Keir Starmer said at the weekend, we should put that on pause while there is war in Europe. It's essential that we all fully support what the UK Government is doing. In light of Russia's appalling actions, the government and Prime Minister need our backing, and they have mine and the whole Scottish Conservative party. We should all be focused on what we can do to help the Ukrainian people in any capacity”.

This a major U-turn from Mr Ross’ previous criticisms of the Prime Minister’s handling of the scandal, with repeated calls for Mr Johnson to resign from his position. Should we view this change in stance as a bad thing? Or should we see it as a stand in solidarity with the Prime Minister and, by extension, Ukraine?

Before the Ukrainian crisis boiled over and Russia invaded a sovereign nation, it seemed like Mr Johnson’s time at Number 10 Downing Street was coming to a close. After somehow deflecting scandal after scandal, it looked as if Mr Johnson was finally unable to pull his fat from the fire. Now, can we really say that’s the case?

There is the train of thought that now is just simply not the time to be discussing allegations of corruption and demanding the resignation of our Prime Minister, when there is a war going on in Eastern Europe. After all, that is the most pressing issue of our times. Yet this does not mean that Sue Gray report and its scandal should be swept aside.

There is the train of thought that now is just simply not the time to be discussing allegations of corruption

It is the opinion of this writer that Mr Johnson wouldn’t be disappointed if the situation in Ukraine causes the public and the media to forget about ‘Partygate’. That is if Mr Johnson was able to steer his ship through the Ukraine storm, of course.

So, whilst it is important to focus on the war ravaging Ukraine, we cannot throw aside our own government’s failings. Instead, the likely best course of action is to place Sue Gray report on the back burner until we find peace in Europe. Ultimately, ‘Partygate’ still happened and those in government should face consequences for their actions, but it seems as if that will have to be at a later date.

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