Rishi Sunak (L) returns to Downing Street in Westminster, central London, on Friday. AFP
Sunak is visualised as waiting in the wings to mount a challenge in a ruling Conservative party leadership contest, in the event 15 per cent of its MPs in the House of Commons express no confidence in Johnson. Rishi Sunak speaks during an Economic Update statement, in the House of Commons in London. AFP
There's speculation as to whether Sunak's attendance will affect his prospective candidature. The photo reportedly shows the head of government holding a can of Estrella beer, with Sunak next to him. Earlier, reliable media reports indicated there was cake cutting and eating at the event, with Johnson's wife Carrie attending as well, according to Indo-Asian News Service.
Sunak, when asked about the surprise birthday party in an interview by BBC, said he had been in the Cabinet room '100, 200, God knows how many times.’ Adding: 'You are asking me about something that happened almost two years ago.'
In short, he neither confirmed nor denied he was there. It remains to be seen whether a police investigation currently under way finds him or Johnson culpable in respect to what the UK Prime Minister's office claimed to have been an impromptu bash. It has, however, acknowledged there was a surprise birthday celebration organised by Carrie Johnson, maintaining the Prime Minister stayed at it for only 10 minutes.
On Monday, a redacted report of an intra-government examination by a senior civil servant Sue Gray revealed that 12 of the 16 cases of perceived violations of COVID-19 laws then in force were now being probed by London Metropolitan Police, popularly known as Scotland Yard. The Yard are said to possess around 300 pictures from various sources in addition to records of emails and text messages as they attempt to get to the bottom of a matter that has paralysed the central government in Britain, with the Prime Minister seen as a suspect.
Sources told The Mirror newspaper No 10 aides were present in the Cabinet room for the birthday celebration, but there was no birthday cake, according to Indo-Asian News Service.
Adam Wagner, a barrister, said to The Guardian daily: "The legal question for the Prime Minister is whether he participated in the gathering. The fact that he was photographed holding a beer strongly suggests he did and therefore committed a criminal offence of the regulations."
The punishment for holding social events during the COVID-19 lockdown period is a financial penalty, the sum of which depends on the extent of contravention – in other words, the size of the gathering and the brazenness involved. However, an attempt to erase evidence by deleting messages and pictorial proof is a more serious crime, a sentence for which could even be prison.
Johnson's woes were compounded during the week with the resignation of a long-serving and trusted head of policy at Downing Street, Munira Mirza, who is of Pakistani descent.
She quit because her boss made a false allegation against the former barrister and now leader of opposition Sir Keir Starmer in Parliament about his performance as director of public prosecution and did not comply with her request to the Prime Minister to withdraw the charge or apologise for it.
Sunak was put a question on the affair at a press conference. He replied: "I wouldn't have said it." This has been quickly interpreted as the Chancellor distancing himself from the Prime Minister as the latter battles to save his premiership.
Indo-Asian News Service
Allegations that a string of parties were held at Downing Street while the rest of the country abided by the rules have shaken Johnson's government, prompting the worst crisis of his premiership and calls for him to quit.
Markets in political commentary overshoot. The trade among hyper-political obsessives has swung from “Keir Starmer had an amazing start as leader of the opposition” to “Labour is doomed”
When a politician takes a stand against public opinion it is time to sit up and pay attention. Especially when it is Rishi Sunak, the most popular politician in Britain and the most likely next prime minister
The British prime minister has faced a barrage of criticism and calls to quit over claims of an illegal Downing Street party on Dec.18, 2020. He has repeatedly said he was assured the gathering complied with social distancing restrictions in place at the time and has ordered an internal investigation.
A team of young Emirati engineers at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) have achieved a new breakthrough in developing prosthetic limbs using 3D printing technology.
The diameter of the asteroid, which was called “2023 DZ2”, is estimated to be 93 metres, the height of the Big Ben clock tower is 96 meters, and its maximum possible diameter is 96 meters, and scientists claim that it could be as small as 41 meters.
Astronomers had long been searching for comet-like objects entering the Solar System from the vastness of interstellar space, but had never before observed one.
Contacts between Riyadh and Damascus had gathered momentum following a landmark agreement to re-establish ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a key ally of President Bashar Al-Assad, a regional source aligned with Damascus said.