UK PM welcomes police probe into Downing Street parties

A police officer walks past 10 Downing Street in London, Jan 25, 2022. (KRISTY WIGGLESWORTH/AP)

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday welcomed a Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged lockdown parties at his official Downing Street residence, and said it would help to draw a line under the issue.

The police announced the investigation after receiving evidence from an internal government probe into a series of gatherings.

I can confirm that the Met is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19.

  Cressida Dick, London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner

"I welcome the Met's decision to conduct it's own investigation because I believe this will help to give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matters," Johnson told parliament on Tuesday.

Johnson is fighting for his political survival after new allegations that he broke the COVID-19 lockdown rules he imposed by attending a surprise birthday party in Downing Street when social gatherings indoors were banned.

That added to a long list of alleged lockdown breaches in Downing Street, including one "bring your own booze" party, which Johnson has said he attended thinking it was a work event.

READ MORE: UK PM Johnson apologizes for attending lockdown party

Police will now investigate, London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said on Tuesday.

"I can confirm that the Met (Metropolitan Police) is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations," she said.

Johnson faced calls to resign from opposition politicians during an urgent debate following Dick's announcement.

The prime minister said he has commissioned an independent inquiry into a series of events at Downing Street, which "involved sharing information with the police continuously."

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves from 10 Downing Street in London on Jan 25, 2022. (DANIEL LEAL / AFP)

The police investigation could force a delay to the internal inquiry commissioned by Johnson and carried out by senior official Sue Gray, who is expected to report her findings later this week in what was seen as a key moment for Johnson's future as prime minister.

I welcome the Met's decision to conduct its own investigation. I believe it will give the public the clarity it needs and draw a line under matters.

Boris Johnson, UK PM

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During the debate about the police investigation, politicians from the main opposition Labour Party, the minority Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party called on Johnson to stand down as prime minister.

Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey said the government was in meltdown, adding: "We can't go on with this chaotic government." He called on Johnson to "do the right thing and resign."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also welcomed the police investigation.

"The public rightly expect the police to uphold the law without fear or favor, no matter who that involves. The public must be able to expect the highest standards from everyone, including the Prime Minister and those around him," he said.

"No one is above the law. There cannot be one rule for the government and another for everyone else," Khan added.