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Johnson's political fate hangs in balance following more Downing Street parties

The reports of UK premier and his staff breaching restrictions at the height of Britain’s coronavirus lockdown have enraged the public

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Johnson's political fate hangs in balance following more Downing Street parties
GNN Media: Representational Photo

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fighting for his political future Friday as outrage mounted after his belated apology for attending a party during lockdown and as a fresh report emerged of other raucous gatherings at his office.

Revelations that Johnson and Downing Street staff breached restrictions at the height of Britain’s coronavirus lockdown have enraged the public, who were forced to abide by rules that prevented them from visiting sick and dying loved ones or attending funerals.

The scandal looked set to deepen Friday as the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph published an exclusive claiming Johnson’s staff held an alcohol-fuelled party just hours before the socially distanced funeral of Prince Philip in April 2021.

The image of Queen Elizabeth sitting alone in church at her late husband’s memorial service was one of the starkest images of Britain under lockdown.

Most cabinet members have rallied around Johnson after his mea culpa, but the backing from potential successors such as powerful finance minister Rishi Sunak has been distinctly lukewarm.

While expressing “heartfelt apologies”, Johnson sparked ridicule this week by saying he had believed a May 2020 gathering in the Downing Street garden—at which more than 100 people gathered—was a work event.

He urged all sides to await the findings of an internal inquiry.

Douglas Ross, the Conservatives leader in Scotland, has joined at least four Tory backbench MPs in calling for Johnson to quit after the prime minister admitted joining the party.

“Regretfully, I have to say his position is no longer tenable,” Ross told STV.

Cabinet member Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed Ross as a “lightweight” Tory figure, sparking rebukes from other MPs and warnings that the upper-crust Englishman was bolstering the case for Scottish independence.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has insisted Johnson had been “very, very sincere” in his apology, amid warnings that Conservative MPs could be mobilising for a no-confidence vote

‘Partygate’

But Lewis was forced to play down reports that Johnson had in the wake of his House of Commons apology told Ross and other Tories that he did not believe he had done anything wrong.

On Wednesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer for the first time joined other opposition chiefs in demanding Johnson’s resignation.

The prime minister’s poll ratings have slumped since “partygate” allegations emerged last month.

One new poll by YouGov in The Times newspaper gave Labour a 10-point lead over the Tories, its biggest margin since 2013, and said six out of 10 voters believe Johnson should resign.

London’s Metropolitan Police have not ruled out a criminal probe into the May 2020 party, which occurred at a time when Britons were banned from outdoor socialising.

But for now, Johnson’s fate appears to lie in the hands of senior civil servant Sue Gray, whom he has commissioned to look into the May 2020 event and other Downing Street gatherings that year.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak, who was noticeably absent from the House of Commons on Wednesday, said Johnson had been right to apologise and urged “patience” pending Gray’s report.

Another potential contender to replace Johnson, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, also took hours to issue any public backing, but later said she stood “100 percent” behind the prime minister.

Johnson’s official spokesman insisted the cabinet was united in delivering the government’s post-Brexit and post-pandemic priorities.

“The prime minister abides by the principles of public office,” he told reporters, stressing that Johnson had promised to publish Gray’s report and then update parliament.

SOURCE: AFP

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Mr. Ghumman is a seasoned journalist who has 19 years of diversified experience in print, electronic and digital media. He has worked with 92 News HD, Daily Pakistan Today, Daily The Business, Daily Dawn, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer as News Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Web Content Editor and Article Writer. Mr Ghumman has graduated from the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is currently enrolled in M.Phil in Mass Communication at the University of Punjab.

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Two colleges closed in Islamabad amid rising coronavirus cases

Six cases of COVID-19 have been reported in two colleges of Islamabad

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Two colleges closed in Islamabad amid rising coronavirus cases

Islamabad: Islamabad administration has closed two colleges after emerging coronavirus cases on Sunday. 

According to the details garnered, positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in two colleges of the federal capital. In this regard, the Islamabad district health officer (DHO) has informed the Deputy Commissioner in a letter.

In the letter to the deputy commissioner (DC), the DHO informed that six cases of COVID-19 have been reported in two colleges. The DHO said that three Corona cases have been reported in IMCG G-6/1, while three Corona cases have also come to light in IMCG F-6/2. 

Following to the coronavirus cases, the district health officer directed to close the two colleges immediately till the next order and spray disinfectant.

The letter said that the federal administration should conduct contact tracing and testing in both the colleges, while the tests should also be conducted of close relatives to the infected female students.

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Pakistan

Murree Tragedy: Inquiry committee suggests grand operation against illegal constructions

PMD did not issues any official notice or alert regarding storms before Murree incident

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Murree Tragedy: Inquiry committee suggests grand operation against illegal constructions

Lahore: While completing its Murree tragedy investigation report, an inquiry committee has suggested a grand operation against illegal constructions, buildings, plazas and hotels in the hilly resort.

According to the privacy sources, a five-member inquiry committee, formed by the Punjab government to find reasons for the happening of the Murree tragedy in which at least 22 tourists died, has completed its preliminary report on Sunday. 

The committee has given a shape of draft to its findings. The inquiry committee will present its report to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar tomorrow. 

As per sources, the committee finds many reasons of Murree tragedy. “The roads leading to Murree should have been closed after three days of snowfall. But they were shut after five days,” the report said. 

The report also pointed that the snow removing machinery sat there but the operators were nowhere to be seen, adding that the PMD had not issued any official notice or alert regarding storms. It also noticed that the Metrological Office warning was also ignored.

The committee suggested that a grand operation against illegal constructions, hotels and plazas be launched and the administration seal the hotels which do not provide car park facilities.

Soon after the Murree tragedy, the Punjab government constituted an inquiry committee to determine causes and lapses in Murree.

According to the notification issued by the Punjab government, the high-level inquiry committee will be headed by Additional Chief Secretary to Punjab Government Zafar Nasarullah while Ali Sarfraz, Asad Gillani and Farooq Mazhar will be members of the probe body.

The notification also stated that the committee had been directed to submit its report within seven days and identify the elements involved in negligence.

“The committee would determine those responsible for the Murree tragedy and investigate whether the government agencies had taken any joint action despite the stern warning of the Meteorological Department or not.”

It further said that the committee will also investigate why vehicles were not stopped in Islamabad to prevent entry into Murree and Galyat.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed grief at the tragic deaths of stranded tourists in Murree, ordering an inquiry and regulations to avert such tragedies in the future.

On his official twitter handle, the Premier wrote that heavy snowfall and a huge rush of tourists caught the district administration unprepared.

“Shocked & upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree.  Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl (people) proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies,” he posted.

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PML-N asks for ‘deal’ for four people: Shahbaz Gill

Special assistant claims Shehbaz Sharif will soon find himself behind the bars

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PML-N asks for ‘deal’ for four people: Shahbaz Gill

Faisalabad: Special Assistant to PM on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill on Sunday claimed that Opposition Leader in National Assembly and former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif has asked for a deal for four people.

Addressing a press conference in Faisalabad on Sunday, Shahbaz Gill said that the PMLN was demanding that Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, and Maryam Nawaz be allowed to leave the country. The fourth person, according to Gill, is Nawaz Sharif who is already in London.

Shahbaz Gill also said that the PMLN wants former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to stay in Pakistan and lead the PMLN politics. He said that the government would not give a deal to the Sharifs.

He compared the Sharifs’ demand for a deal with deals served at restaurants. “You are confronted by Imran Khan. We won’t allow you a boiled potato or a corncob and you are asking for a chicken piece. You won’t get a deal … You can only curse and get cursed.”

Shahbaz Gill also said that the law would take its due course and Shehbaz Sharif will soon find himself behind the bars. He said Nawaz Sharif will land in jail when he return to Pakistan.

On the other hand, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry in a separate media briefing also spoke about the Sharif family, claiming that there is a "race" underway among four leading members.

"When the four big leaders went to meet 'someone', they said that 'Nawaz Sharif did not do right by the country, why don't you consider us?'," the minister claimed further.

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