Politics

Tony Blair refuses to name for Boris Johnson’s resignation over Partygate

Sir Tony Blair has refused to ask Boris Johnson to resign over Partygate, saying he can “understand how these things happen”.

The former Labor Prime Minister declined to join his successor Sir Keir Starmer in urging Johnson to step down from Downing Street parties during the lockdown.

It comes after Starmer today dramatically stepped up his criticism of Johnson, accusing him of breaking the law over the scandal.

But Blair told Times Radio he would leave questions about Johnson’s resignation to those on the front lines of politics today.

He said: “I’m not going to go into resignation questions or not. Today I leave that to the people on the political front.

“To be frank, what concerns me the most is not the presence of the parties, but the lack of a plan for the country.

“I understand that people are angry and very angry about this. I can also understand how these things happen from the perspective of Downing Street. You can explain it, but you can’t really excuse it.

“I’ve been Prime Minister for 10 years and I know how difficult it is. I don’t really want to get into whether people should quit or not and so on.

“The people of Downing Street would have worked under enormous pressure, under enormous difficulties. I understand how it happened.

“But like I said, the problem is you can give an explanation but you can’t really apologize.

“People have obeyed restrictions, often at massive personal cost and fear and sadness, and quite frankly it just shouldn’t be allowed to happen. But I think he knows that.”

Allegations include staff rolling in a drinks fridge, stuffing suitcases with alcohol, a “Bring Your Own Booze” event in the garden, planned “wine time Fridays” and two parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. The parties and allegations are being investigated by senior official Sue Gray.

Blair was speaking in his first interview since being made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter – the oldest and most senior British order of chivalry – in the New Year’s Honor Roll.

When asked if he would like to be referred to as “Sir Tony”, the former Labor leader told moderator Tom Newton Dunn: “I’m actually perfectly happy with Tony, that feels most natural to me.”

The honor was heavily criticized by Blair’s opponents and families of those who died in the Iraq war.

“Of course there would be people who would strongly oppose it. That’s to be expected,” Blair added.

He said some people would focus on Iraq and “ignore” all the other things his government was doing, adding, “You don’t take leadership and make decisions without arousing much opposition, and that’s why I got it.” that’s not surprising.

“The best thing is just to accept that of course there will be people who will strongly oppose and hate me for various reasons, and that’s what happens in politics.”

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