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Johnson, UK's Prime Minister, accused of breaking lockdown at garden party

LONDON (AP), -- Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, was subject to a storm of political and public outrage Tuesday after he and his staff were accused of violating coronavirus lockdown rules. They held a party in a garden in 2020 when Britons were prohibited from having more than one person with them.

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Johnson, UK's Prime Minister, accused of breaking lockdown at garden party

Opposition politicians demanded a police investigation into broadcaster ITV's leaked invitation to "socially distant drinks" in the Downing Street office garden and residence of the prime minister. Martin Reynolds, the prime minister's private secretary sent an email to many people urging them to bring their own alcohol.

This event was set for May 20, 2020. It also coincided with a televised news conference by the government reminding people that group gatherings are prohibited indoors and outdoors. London's Metropolitan Police also issued a reminder of the day.

Tuesday's statement by the police stated that it was in contact with the government regarding the party claims. These allegations follow the allegations of rule-breaking gatherings at Downing Street during the pandemic. The latest allegations will be investigated by a senior civil servant, who was already investigating those claims.

Johnson insists he did not break any rules personally, but British media reported Tuesday, however, that Johnson and Carrie Johnson attended the garden gathering.

However, outrage is growing as Johnson's Conservative government is accused of failing to comply with pandemic rules which imposed the strictest restrictions on individual freedoms in Britain since World War II.

Gatherings were prohibited during the first lockdown. It began in March 2020, and lasted more than two years. Millions of people were isolated from their families and friends, and prevented from visiting sick relatives.

Johnson has gotten through the criticism, but his problems continue to mount. Discontent about the continued pandemic restrictions that some Conservatives consider draconian is threatening Johnson's support within his party. After a series of allegations of financial and ethical misconduct against him and his government, he is now unsure about his judgement.

Johnson is not expected to face a verdict from the voters as Britain has not yet scheduled a national election. Johnson's party is another matter. Conservatives are known for ousting leaders when they become a liability. Their jitters have been heightened by a surprising loss in a by election for a district that the party has held for over a century.

According to official statistics, 268 coronavirus-infected people died in Britain on the day of the May 2020 garden party, bringing the total number of deaths to over 36,000. This is the second-highest number in Europe, after Russia, at more than 150,000

Lyndsay Jackson, Lyndsay's mother, died from COVID-19 in that month. She said the government showed "disregard for ordinary people" and for the difficulties they were facing.

"I was unable to be there for her when she died. I wasn't even able hold her hand." Jackson, who is a member the COVID-19 Bereaved Familys for Justice, said that Jackson couldn't hug her brother after the funeral. Sky News reported that she believed Johnson was in "beneath contempt".

Sue Gray, a senior civil servant who was appointed by government to investigate earlier claims that Johnson's staff held lockdown-breaching Christmas parties for 2020, will investigate the latest claims.

Opposition Labour Party demanded Johnson answer questions in Parliament about the allegations. But the government sent Michael Ellis, a junior minister to address lawmakers. Ellis offered his condolences for the "upset that these allegations have caused", but said he couldn't comment further as an investigation was ongoing.

Angela Rayner, Labour's Deputy Leader, said Johnson's "absence speaks volumes."

She said, "He can run but not hide."

Edward Argar, Health Minister, said that he understands why people are upset and angry but would not pre-judge Gray's outcome.

However, Ed Miliband, a Labour lawmaker, said that the allegations were "incredibly damning."

Miliband stated on BBC radio, "How can he lead this country through these difficult times, and get people to follow the public health advice, when he has so flagrantly violated the rules?"

Johnson should be concerned that it wasn't just opposition politicians who were angry, which is worrying. These latest claims have fueled growing concerns within the Conservative government about the leadership of the prime minister.

Johnson was chosen by the right-of-center party as its leader for his positive manner and popular touch. This choice was confirmed when he led The Tories to a huge election win in December 2019.

However, the pandemic has shaken him. His inability to quickly lock down the country, frequent policy U-turns, and the recent allegations that he and his staff didn't follow their own rules have drawn criticism.

Ruth Davidson, a former leader of the Conservatives, in Scotland, stated that many people would never forgive the "utterly unjustifiable" garden party.

She said, "It just makes a mockery out of the idea that we were doing national efforts to keep each other safe."

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