Des «apéros du vendredi» à Downing Street: la goutte de trop pour Boris Johnson?

Le journal britannique The Mirror affirme ce samedi que des apéritifs ont été organisés chaque vendredi à Downing Street pendant le confinement. Ces révélations allongent la liste des accusations visant le Premier ministre Boris Johnson

C’est l’une des images symboles de la rigueur des confinements au Royaume-Uni : la reine Elizabeth II, toute de noire vêtue jusqu’au masque, assise seule dans la chapelle du château de Windsor lors des funérailles du prince Philip.

Jusqu’au petit matin de ce 17 avril 2021, l’ambiance était tout autre au 10, Downing Street. Des collaborateurs du Premier ministre – sans Boris Johnson lui-même – fêtaient le départ de deux membres de l’équipe, selon The Telegraph. Les fêtards, une trentaine, s’étaient rejoints dans les jardins de la résidence officielle, d’après le quotidien proche du pouvoir. Une personne avait été envoyée dans un supermarché acheter des bouteilles de vin qu’elle a ramenées à Downing Street dans une valise, précise-t-il.

« Il est profondément regrettable que cela ait eu lieu à une période de deuil national et le 10 (Downing Street) a présenté des excuses au palais », a déclaré un porte-parole de Boris Johnson. À l’époque, les rencontres en intérieur étaient interdites, les Britanniques ne pouvant se retrouver qu’à six au maximum à l’extérieur.

Le Premier ministre au courant

Mais d’après The Mirror, cette soirée n’était pas un cas isolé. Le journal britannique rapporte que Boris Johnson encourageait son équipe à « lâcher la pression » en fin de semaine, lors de ces « apéros du vendredi ». Une « tradition de longue date » qui a perduré malgré l’introduction de restrictions liées au Covid et interdisant ce type de rencontres. Le journal ajoute que le personnel avait investi dans un réfrigérateur pour garder leurs bouteilles d’alcool au frais et que le Premier ministre était au courant de ces rassemblements.

Un porte-parole de Downing Street a renvoyé aux conclusions d’une enquête menée par une haute fonctionnaire qui devra déterminer si le Premier ministre et ses collaborateurs ont enfreint les règles lors des différents événements.

Mais ces nouvelles révélations viennent allonger une liste déjà longue de fêtes organisées dans les cercles du pouvoir durant les périodes de confinement. Elles mettent aussi en exergue, d’après des témoins cités dans les médias, une véritable culture de la boisson à Downing Street.

Elles enfoncent encore davantage le chef du gouvernement qui, cas contact Covid, n’a plus été vu en public depuis son mea culpa mercredi au Parlement pour sa présence à une de ces fêtes en mai 2020. Il avait affirmé avoir alors pensé qu’il s’agissait d’une réunion de travail.

Johnson contre-attaque

La colère gronde jusque dans les rangs conservateurs du Premier ministre. « Pour moi, Boris Johnson a perdu l’autorité morale pour diriger le pays », a réagi le député Andrew Bridgen ce samedi sur SkyNews. Un autre député du même bord, Tobias Ellwood, a déclaré que si Boris Johnson ne pouvait pas montrer l’exemple il devait « se retirer ». D’autres parlementaires tories ont témoigné avoir reçu un flot de courrier d’électeurs mécontents.

Au moins cinq députés conservateurs ont déclaré publiquement qu’ils avaient envoyé des courriers au « comité 1922 » demandant un vote de défiance. Pour déloger Boris Johnson, il faudrait qu’ils soient au moins 54 députés tories.

Boris Johnson a lancé la contre-attaque destinée à se maintenir au pouvoir. Des journaux ont rapporté que ses soutiens ont été appelés à vanter ses réalisations, dont la mise en œuvre du Brexit, et que certains de ses collaborateurs seront priés de prendre la porte.

source: RFI Avec AFP

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