Boris Johnson attended a birthday celebration inside No 10 in June 2020 while the country remained in Covid lockdown.
The Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, organised the surprise gathering for him complete with a chorus of “happy birthday” on the afternoon of June 19 2020, ITV News reports.
A Downing Street spokeswoman admitted Mr Johnson had attended the celebration, saying staff “gathered briefly” in the Cabinet Room following a meeting.
It was alleged that 30 people attended the gathering and shared cake at a time when social mixing indoors was banned.
The allegation is the latest in a long line of reports of gatherings held by Downing Street staff during lockdown and Covid restrictions.
At a glance: 5 key points
- Boris Johnson is accused of attending a birthday party on 19 June 2020 while the country was in lockdown
- The gathering was allegedly organised by Carrie Johnson, with around 30 people attending the event in the Cabinet Room in Downing Street
- Those in attendance are believed to include Lulu Lytle, the interior designer who was renovating the Number 10 flat at the time, and family friends are said to have been hosted in the Number 10 flat later into the evening
- Downing Street have not disputed that fact that an event took place but have downplayed allegations that it was a “party”, although they have denied the allegation that family friends were hosted in the Number 10 flat
- The latest accusation of an illegal gathering during Covid restrictions has led to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branding Mr Johnson a “national distraction”
What has Boris Johnson been accused of doing?
According to ITV News, a party was allegedly held on 19 June 2020 to celebrate the Prime Minister’s birthday.
His wife Carrie Johnson reportedly organised the event, which took place in the Cabinet Room of Downing Street at 2pm.
The Prime Minister is said to have attended the gathering after he returned from an official trip to a school in Hertfordshire.
Around 30 people attended, including Carrie Johnson and the Prime Minister’s interior designer Lulu Lytle, who was renovating the Downing Street flat at the time.
Guests gathered for around 20 to 30 minutes, eating birthday cake and picnic food from M&S.
It is alleged that after the afternoon event, family friends were hosted in the Downing Street flat.
What has Downing Street said?
Number 10 has played down allegations of a “party”, instead stating that staff gathered “briefly” to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “A group of staff working in No 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday. He was there for less than ten minutes.”
In relation to accusations that family friends gathered in the Prime Minister’s residence following the afternoon gathering, a spokeswoman added: “This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time, the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.”
It is believed that the investigation into Downing Street parties by senior civil servant Sue Gray will not be delayed by the new accusations, as her and her team were aware of the allegations.
What have other said about the situation?
The latest accusation adds more pressure to Mr Johnson, who has been fighting calls to resign from his position amid the Downing Street party scandal.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has once again called from his resignation, calling Mr Johnson a “national distraction”
He said: “This is yet more evidence that we’ve got a Prime Minister who believes that the rules that he made don’t apply to him. And so we’ve got a Prime Minister and a Government that spend their whole time mopping up sleaze and deceit.
“Meanwhile, millions of people are struggling to pay their bills and we can’t afford to go on with this chaotic, rudderless Government. The Prime Minister is a national distraction and he’s got to go.”
Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, branded the reports “completely sickening”.
She said: “Like thousands of others, I remember June 19th vividly.
“It was the day before what would have been my dad’s 73rd birthday, shortly after he had passed away from Covid-19. It was a horrible time for my family, but we stuck to the rules, not even being able to hug to comfort each other.
“It’s completely sickening that the Prime Minister spent the evening sharing cake with 30 friends indoors and though we’re not even surprised any more, it still brings fresh pain. Whilst dozens sang happy birthday to him, families couldn’t even sing in memory at their loved ones funerals.
“Regardless of any report, the Prime Minister clearly needs to resign. He’s lost all credibility.”
However, culture secretary Nadine Dorries came to the defence of the Prime Minister, saying: “So, when people in an office buy a cake in the middle of the afternoon for someone else they are working in the office with and stop for ten minutes to sing happy birthday and then go back to their desks, this is now called a party?”
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