Got It All

'Rife' cocaine use reported in U.K. Parliament — just as Boris Johnson announces crackdown on drug crime – The Washington Post

LONDON — The speaker of the House of Commons has said he is calling in police to investigate reports that drug use is “rife” in the British Parliament — as Prime Minister Boris Johnson dressed up as a police officer to promote his tough new anti-drug strategy for the country.
A report in Britain’s Sunday Times said a dozen sites inside the Palace of Westminster, which includes the House of Lords and House of Commons, tested positive for traces of cocaine.
Areas of interest included the bathrooms nearest Johnson’s office and those of Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is in charge of domestic security.
Drug residue, the newspaper reported, was also found close to rooms used by the opposition Labour Party, as well as a sedate dining room in the House of Lords, and the exclusive, sometimes raucous Thames-side pub called the Strangers’ Bar.
The paper reported that cannabis was also “being used openly” within the vicinity.
Of 12 bathrooms tested for drugs with detection wipes, cocaine was reportedly found in 11 of the locations, including places that can be best accessed only by those with a designated parliamentary pass, including lawmakers and staffers, alongside clerks, librarians, security personnel, waiters and journalists. Different passes allow different levels of access to halls, bars, committee rooms and cubbyholes within the Victorian-age premises.
“The accounts of drug misuse in parliament given to the Sunday Times are deeply concerning,” Lindsay Hoyle, House speaker, told Sky News on Sunday. “I will be raising them as a priority with the Metropolitan Police next week.” The Metropolitan Police service did not immediately return a request for comment.
The report came just as Johnson was set to announce a 10-year plan to hold drug offenders responsible and combat crime in England and Wales. On Monday, he was pictured with police in the city of Liverpool while wearing a dark uniform and a black hat with “police” stitched in white across the front — an image that caused a stir on social media as #cocaine became a top Twitter trend in the United Kingdom.
In Britain, cocaine is a “Class A” drug, the most serious classification. Those found to be in possession of the substance face up to seven years in prison. Those supplying or producing the drug can face a life sentence.
Yet the Sunday Times reported that “there is a cocaine culture in parliament” from well-known lawmakers to young staffers — on both sides of the political spectrum.
A Washington Post reporter with a parliamentary pass walking the halls of the palace found at least one of the suspect bathrooms closed, but the others open for business. The doors of the stalls and toilets — called loos here — could be locked.
The palace is a confusing warren of Victorian stairways to nowhere and closet-sized offices. There are also plenty of tea rooms, dining halls and pubs, frequent sites of receptions for constituents — and dealmaking.
Westminster is literally rotting from the basements — the pipes are bursting and rodents are a scourge — and the narrow unventilated corridors often smell like roast meat and plates of eggs. It is fusty — and delightful.
Interviews with British journalists and staffers who work in Parliament, who asked for anonymity to speak freely, said that the estate, sometimes called the “Westminster bubble,” is an all-encompassing world, with a drinking culture.
“So yes, there are some drugs being taken,” said a British journalist, who described Westminster as “a workplace with a lot of pubs.”
Johnson has confessed back in 2008 that he snorted cocaine and smoked marijuana as a teenager. He stressed at the time, “I thoroughly disagree with drugs. I don’t want my kids having drugs.”
Asked about allegations of drug use in Parliament, Johnson told Sky News on Monday that the government “is absolutely determined to fight drugs.”
Under Johnson’s new plan, more officers will be sent onto the streets to tackle crime, and drug users will be encouraged to visit rehabilitation facilities. Offenders may also have their passports and driver’s licenses revoked, Sky News reported.
“I take the view that it’s a long time really since you’ve heard a government say that drugs, Class A drugs, are bad, bad for society, bad for opportunity, bad for kids growing up in this country,” Johnson said.
Boris Johnson’s Peppa Pig speech forces him to answer the question: ‘Is everything okay?’
This is not the first time Hoyle has expressed concern that drug use may be taking place within Parliament. “It’s not just drink we’ve got to catch out, there is a drug problem,” he said in 2019 as he geared up to replace John Bercow as speaker of the House of Commons.
According to a report on drug misuse from Britain’s Office for National Statistics, at least 873,000 people in England and Wales between ages 16 and 59 reported powder cocaine use over a year, ending in March 2020. Cocaine is the second-most commonly used drug after cannabis, the report found.
Johnson is also facing a controversy of another kind: The British press is publishing allegations that there was a staff party held at 10 Downing Street on Dec. 18 last year, when such gatherings were banned because of lockdown measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 146,000 lives in the United Kingdom.
Last week, the Mirror tabloid splashed a story on its front page saying the prime minister gave a speech at a “packed” goodbye party for a top aide “when the country was in the grip of its second lockdown.” The newspaper said there was a second party with guests “knocking back glasses of wine during a Christmas quiz and a Secret Santa while the rest of the country was forced to stay at home.”
Johnson has been asked about the party and has not denied it took place.
The government’s police minister, Kit Malthouse, was asked about the alleged holiday party on Sky News. First, Malthouse said he was not sure there was a party. Then he said he knew “nothing about it but I’ve been assured by 10 Downing Street that no rules were broken, if there was a gathering of any kind.”
He also said “the police will have a look” to see whether any rules were broken.
“So Downing Street stands accused of breaking the law and hosting a Christmas party when they instructed us all not to do so, and the PM is cutting about on national television dressed as a police officer? Totally normal country,” Scottish lawmaker Stewart McDonald tweeted Monday.
Read more:
A dealer moved cocaine, heroin around the U.K. A photo showing his ‘love of Stilton cheese’ brought him down.
Rise in ‘needle spiking’ puts women in Britain on high alert
Boris Johnson visits a farm, steers bull into police officer
The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning.
By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

source

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *