Downing Street party: Boris Johnson to face PMQs as he is told to come clean over No 10 lockdown drinks

One Conservative MP said he could not see how the Prime Minister “could survive” if he attended a party during lockdown

MPs have told Boris Johnson to come clean over whether he attended a “bring your own booze” party in the No 10 garden during the first lockdown.

The Prime Minister will make his first public appearance since an email was leaked on Monday from his principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, in which he invited more than 100 staff to drinks in May 2020.

Mr Johnson’s expected appearance at PMQs comes as new reports claim that Downing Street staff were advised to “clean up” their phones.

The Independent reports that a senior member of staff told employees that it would be a “good idea” to remove any messages that suggested lockdown parties were held at No 10.

What has the Government said about the Downing Street party?

MPs from all parties have been left frustrated at the failure of Downing Street - and, in particular, the Prime Minister - to address the latest allegations on Tuesday (11 January)

Labour asked an urgent question in the Commons about the issue - but Mr Johnson avoided scrutiny by sending Paymaster General Michael Ellis to respond on his behalf.

No senior ministers attended the house for the question and the Tory benches were sparsely populated.

However, the Commons is expected to be packed for Prime Minister’s Questions.

What have MPs said about the Downing Street party?

Prime minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to head to Parliament for Prime Minister’s Questions (Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to head to Parliament for Prime Minister’s Questions (Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to head to Parliament for Prime Minister’s Questions (Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

Conservative backbencher Nigel Mills said that any senior figure who attended the event could not have a position where they were responsible for setting Covid policy.

He told BBC News: “It is utterly untenable, we have seen people resign for far less than that. If the Prime Minister knowingly attended a party, I can’t see how he can survive.

“I don’t think we need an inquiry to work out whether the Prime Minister was there. He knows whether he was there or not. Just come out and say what happened.

“If he was there he better try a hugely fulsome apology and see if the country will buy it but I’m not sure they will.”

The leader of the Scottish Tories Douglas Ross echoed those comments and again warned that Mr Johnson could not continue as Prime Minister if he was found to have misled Parliament.

Labour’s deputy leader said that Mr Johnson’s position would be “untenable” if it is proved that he had attended parties in contravention to lockdown rules.

Angela Rayner told BBC Breakfast: “It is very simple for me, I’ve been asking the Prime Minister for the last couple of days, you just have to say, were you at this party or not on May 20?

“He can clear this up very quickly and he has refused to do so, so far, and he has really undermined the office of Prime Minister by letting this carry on and continue because he refuses to tell the British public what they deserve to hear, and that’s whether or not he broke the lockdown rules and whether he was at this party or not.”

Did Boris Johnson attend the Downing Street party in May 2020?

However, multiple reports have said that both he and his wife Carrie Symonds were among around 30 people to attend.

What coronavirus rules were in place when the party took place?

Groups were banned from meeting socially outdoors in England on the day the party was held.

The Metropolitan Police tweeted on the day of the alleged “bring your own booze” event that people could have a picnic, exercise or do sport outside - providing you are “on your own, with people you live with, or just you and one other person”.

Oliver Dowden, the-then culture secretary, used a Downing Street press conference that day to remind the public they could “meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart”.

What is Sue Gray’s inquiry looking at?

Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, will look into the numerous claims of rule-breaking events being held in Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic.

She will look into the May 20 2020 claims and her inquiry will also investigate the garden gathering that took place five days earlier.

That event was revealed by a leaked photo showing the Prime Minister and staff sitting around a table with cheese and wine.

Has the Downing Street party had an impact on the polls?

Two snap polls in the wake of the Downing Street party scandal found that a majority now think Mr Johnson should stand down as Prime Minister.

A Savanta ComRes study found 66% of British adults thought he should quit, with 24% saying he should stay.

A YouGov survey for Sky News found 56% believed he should go, with 27% saying he should remain.

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