“I learned of several examples of disrespect and mistreatment of security and cleaning staff. It was unacceptable,” Gray wrote.
Gray wrote that “the top leadership in the ‘centre’ of the Johnson administration ‘must be held accountable’ for the culture that allows parties to exist.”
Despite the gory details of people vomiting on walls, fighting in the corridors of Downing Street, and in many cases, evidence that the building’s occupants know what they’re doing wrong, Johnson’s job is not in immediate danger.
With the next general election not scheduled until 2024, and Johnson currently enjoying a large majority in Parliament, only his Conservative MPs can oust the prime minister, who in fact lacks any potential rebels in number or strength.
That sense of holding on to Johnson, whose personal approval ratings have plummeted since the scandal began last year, is worrying conservatives. They fear that Johnson has caused irreversible damage to his image in the eyes of most voters who have finally seen “what he really is,” in the words of one senior Conservative. Now he is supposed to tarnish his reputation with the rest of the party – which is already underway according to opinion polls and recent election results.
“Since he took office, his towering figure has dominated the political agenda, which is good when the public sees you as a cheerful and laid-back person,” says a Conservative MP and former cabinet minister. “The problem now is that the state has learned more about what this character really is, but it’s still so big that it trumps everything else.”
“There is no doubt that his image has gone from a happy Brexit supporter to a law-breaking liar,” a current cabinet minister told CNN.
Dozens of Conservatives who spoke to CNN agreed that the damage to Johnson’s image is uniquely bad for a man who has long been in the public eye with well-established strengths and weaknesses.
“We all have that friend who we know might be doing bad things, but we don’t see them that way, so we can pretend it’s not really that bad,” says Rob Ford, professor of politics at the University of Manchester.
“When we see the evidence of how bad they really are, it’s not surprising but still heartbreaking. That’s what happens to people who continue to support Johnson. Your worst suspicions will be confirmed.”
Shortly after the report was released, Johnson said in Parliament he was “humbled” and “learned my lesson”, adding: “I take full responsibility for everything that has happened under my jurisdiction.”
But he repeated earlier allegations that the parties only escalated after he left, insisting he was “surprised and disappointed” that several drunken incidents had occurred – despite them taking place in the same building as his office and home.
He noted that cramped quarters in government buildings and the “extremely long hours” of his employees responding to the Covid-19 crisis may explain why so many parties and social events happen.
“I attended these gatherings for a short time to thank them for their service, which I believe is one of the primary responsibilities of the leadership,” Johnson said.
As trivial as this may sound, Johnson has always had the image of a problematic British partner. He was previously fired from one job for creating a show and another for allegedly having an affair. He stretched the truth beyond recognition during the Brexit referendum. It seems rude and relentless. Which is great until the audience stops forgiving you.
“He has always been able to break free from the stereotypes that conservative leaders used to be elitist and outspoken. Somehow he avoided caricatures, says Salma Shah, a former adviser to conservative governments.
“Now that he has taken over the highest office in the country, more stringent scrutiny is inevitable,” she said. “What would hurt the Partygate report, however, is that it really defies the Boris brand as a happy folk figure and makes this cliché applicable to him.”
In the medium term, the Conservatives fear they will remain in power with Johnson for another two years. “He has become more divided over time. I hope he will at least try to unite the party, but I fear his instinct will be to step in and strike if things go against him,” says the veteran House member.
Others pointed to difficult moments earlier in Johnson’s prime ministership, when allies were sent to his defense in news channels only to overturn government policies and make them look ridiculous.
“Those who still defend him against the Partigate in increasingly absurd circumstances will, over time, suffer the stigma he cast on the Conservative Party,” Ford said.
“If the polls can be trusted, most voters are now convinced that Johnson Downing Street is a place where it is acceptable behavior to vomit and pour wine and then act rudely with cleaners obligated to clean everything. No MP wants to be constrained by that,” he adds. Ford.
Earlier, MPs said they would wait for Gray’s report before deciding whether to take action against Johnson. Now some say they will wait for an investigation to determine whether or not Johnson lied to Parliament.
The government minister, who spoke to CNN, said they believe the moment of true truth will come in two special elections on June 23, a damning assessment of Johnson’s party. At this point, some of us are going to start thinking about our seats, I guess.”
In the long run, people within the party will want an autopsy on how Johnson came to power in the first place, given that his mistakes were known all over Westminster.
Several current and former advisers who have worked with Johnson in various positions within and outside of government describe him as a man with a short fuse who rarely truly believes he has done anything wrong.
Everyone who previously worked with Johnson and spoke to CNN described at least one occasion in which they photographed their children to put them in a position to be open to media criticism or political opposition.
A former employee attributes this to Johnson’s obsession with being likeable. “It’s no surprise he used to be a media personality,” they say.
“As a columnist, you can say whatever you want to make people find you funny. When you run a country and what you do actually affects people, you can’t expect them to like everything you do,” adds the former employee.
Observations that Johnson’s character is a box of contradictions are not new. He wrote columns that appealed to the conservative right while playing the liberal mayor of London. Playing both sides worked for a long time.
Indeed, Partygate could mark the end of Johnson’s record-making work. may stay in power longer; He could even fight for re-election — and win.
But there are very few who believe that during a global pandemic he can play a serious statesman while presiding over a culture where your employees organize illegal parties, vomit in government offices, and then act rudely with people, who wipe everything — and remain popular with everyone. .