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Opinion
Martin Ivens

Boris Johnson Walks a Tightrope to Judgment Day

Britain is awaiting the official investigation report into Downing St. parties. But expectations shouldn’t be too high.

All partied out?

All partied out?

Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

All tenants of 10 Downing Street know that British politics is driven by combat each Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions. Faced with a crisis, leaders must display strength and conviction to friend and foe alike. Betray weakness and they are doomed. In the scandal over illicit parties during Covid restrictions, has a bedraggled Boris Johnson got what it takes?

On Monday, a downcast prime minister cringed before the cameras and offered his feeblest excuse yet for attending a party at No. 10 during lockdown: No one had explained the rules to him. His own government had devised those rules. One former Cabinet colleague and Brexit ally, Tory MP David Davis, urged Johnson to quit, quoting the words used by an ally of Winston Churchill to dismiss Neville Chamberlain: “You have sat there too long for all the good you have done — in God’s name go.”