The government is facing even more scrutiny following allegations of yet another lockdown party. On Jan. 14, The Telegraph revealed that two parties took place in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral on April 16, 2021.
Reportedly going on into the early hours, the two events were allegedly a leaving party for the Prime Minister’s then Director of Communications James Slack, as well as another for one of Johnson’s personal photographers, per BBC News.
“The Queen sitting alone, mourning the loss of her husband, was the defining image of lockdown”, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted following the revelation. “Not because she is the Queen, but because she was just another person mourning alone like too many others. Whilst she mourned, No 10 partied.”
Calls for Boris Johnson to resign as a result of these party allegations continue to rise, with the Prime Minister being told to “lead or step aside” by Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the defence select committee. So far, five Conservative MPs have publicly declared they have written to the chairman of the 1922 Committee to say they have no confidence in the Prime Minister.
As this latest allegation and the internal inquiry into the parties unfold, here are all the alleged Downing Street parties that have been revealed so far.
May 15, 2020: Downing Street Garden “Business Meeting”
On Dec. 20, 2021, a photo emerged of Boris and Carrie Johnson with up to 17 staff members enjoying drinks in the Downing Street garden after a Covid press conference in May 2020. Responding to the image, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said in a statement: “These were individuals working outside of normal working hours. It was not against the regulations for those individuals to have a drink outside working hours, but still discussing work.”
Lockdown restrictions at the time meant that if in-person meetings were to be held, they should remain “at least two metres apart”.
May 20, 2020: Downing Street Garden Lockdown Drinks
In an email sent by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary, Downing Street staff are invited to a drinks party on May 20 to “make the most of the lovely weather”. As Martin Reynolds wrote in the email, the gathering was an opportunity for staff to relax “After what has been an incredibly busy period” by having some socially distanced drinks in the No. 10 garden this evening,” per ITV News. “Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”
November 13, 2020: Downing Street Flat Party
Boris Johnson’s former top adviser Dominic Cummings alleged on Twitter that another party took place on Nov. 13, this time in the Downing Street Flat. “Will the CABSEC also be asked to investigate the *flat* party on Fri 13 Nov, the other flat parties & the flat’s ‘bubble’ policy…?” he tweeted on Dec. 8, 2021.
When asked about the party during PMQ’s, Johnson said he couldn’t confirm whether a party had taken place, but if it had he was “sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times”.
November 27, 2020: Leaving Party For Downing Street Aide
Per iNews, Johnson gave a speech during a leaving party for a senior aide, Cleo Watson, on Nov. 27. When asked about his attendance, he didn’t say whether he was there or not. Instead, he said that “the guidance and the rules have been observed at all times”.
December 2020: Leaving Party For Defence Adviser
On Jan. 17, The Mirror alleged that Johnson attended an event to mark the departure of defence adviser Captain Steve Higham during the run-up to Christmas, but no date has yet been given. Reportedly only at the event “for a few minutes”, Johnson reportedly gave a short speech and thanked Higham for his service among a “small number of No 10 staff.”
December 10, 2020: Department for Education Party
Former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson allegedly held a party for officials and ministers in the cafe of the Department of Education on Dec. 10, report The Mirror. Since then, the Department of Education admitted that the gathering took place, and that “it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time”.
December 14, 2020: Gathering At Conservative Campaign Headquarters
According to The Times, a “raucous” party took place in the basement of the Conservative Campaign Headquarters on Dec. 14. The Guardian alleged that “about two dozen staff were present”, including Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and his campaign team.
December 15, 2020: Downing Street Quiz
On Dec. 11, 2021, a photo surfaced of Boris Johnson hosting a Christmas Quiz virtually at No. 10, according to The Mirror. “No work was discussed, it wasn’t a business event,” a source told the newspaper. “Nobody was working that evening, it was purely a social event.” While described as a “virtual gathering”, BBC News notes that sources said some “were in groups in the room sat in teams”.
December 18, 2020: The Christmas Party
In late November last year, it was alleged that a Christmas party took place at Downing Street on Dec. 18, 2020, during a time when all indoor mixing was banned except for household bubbles. The only justification to gather was for if it was “reasonably necessary for work purposes”, per BBC News.
This allegation was later exasperated by a video leaked to ITV News showing the then press secretary Allegra Stratton joking about the possibility of there being a party during a rehearsal press conference.
April 16, 2021: Parties The Night Before Prince Philip’s Funeral
Two parties were alleged to have taken place on April 16, 2021, the night before the Queen would say goodbye to her late husband Prince Philip. According to The Daily Telegraph (via The Guardian), eyewitnesses saw about 30 people at social events in different parts of Downing Street, before the parties combined in the garden. According to one source, a staff member was seen returning with a suitcase filled with bottles of wine.
Shortly after the news broke, No 10 formally apologised to Buckingham Palace about the parties held. According to The Independent, a Downing Street official made the apology in a phone call rather than from Johnson himself, who is said to have not been at No 10 at the time of the parties, according to his spokesman.
At the time of these parties taking place, up to six people or two families could meet outside and only people within their household or support bubble could meet inside.
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