LONDON (AFP) — United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fighting for his political future on Thursday as his Conservatives descended into open internal warfare after he belatedly apologized for attending a party during a coronavirus lockdown.
The apparent breach of Covid restrictions has enraged the public, who were forced to abide by rules that prevented them from visiting sick and dying loved ones or attending funerals.
Most cabinet members rallied around Johnson after his mea culpa, but the backing from some such as Rishi Sunak, his powerful finance minister and potential successor, was distinctly lukewarm.
The prime minister himself went to ground on Thursday, canceling a planned trip to northern England after a family member came down with Covid-19, in scrupulous adherence to his government’s rules.
And the scandal looked set to deepen Friday as the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph published an exclusive claiming that Johnson’s staff had held a raucous party just hours before the socially distanced funeral of Prince Philip.
While expressing “heartfelt apologies,” Johnson this week sparked ridicule by saying he had believed the May 2020 gathering was a work event.
He urged all sides to await the findings of an internal inquiry.