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Boris Johnson faces backlash for alleged “lockdown party” at Downing St

According to a leaked email, No. 10 staff were invited to a drinks party in May 2020 to "make the most of the lovely weather"

By Will Richards

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (Picture: Alamy)

Boris Johnson has faced fresh scrutiny after a leaked email purportedly showed that over 100 Downing Street staff, including the Prime Minister, attended a party in the garden of No. 10 during lockdown.

According to the email, shared with ITV News, staff were invited to a drinks party in May 2020 to “make the most of the lovely weather,” at a time when the general public were legally permitted to only meet one other person outdoors at a distance of two metres.

The email, sent by Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds, read:

Hi all,

“After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.

“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

ITV News reports that 40 Downing Street staff attended the party in the garden, including the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie.

In the wake of the news, senior political figures have criticised Johnson for yet another revelation about the breaking of lockdown rules during the COVID pandemic.

Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted: “I literally had fewer people at my wedding which was in 2006 (not lockdown). This is unbelievable under the circumstances.”

Labour’s Angela Rayner, meanwhile, pointed to a tweet from the Metropolitan Police on May 20, 2020, the day of the alleged Downing Street party, which told the public they could only meet outside “on your own, with people you live with [or] just you and one other person.”

“He’s not a passenger, this is his building,” former Labour leader Ed Miliband told Sky News this morning, while Labour MP Wes Streeting tweeted: “Ministers should not be on the airwaves defending Boris Johnson, let alone a minister in the Department of Health. Let the Prime Minister do his own dirty work. Johnson has done incalculable damage to trust and confidence in the Government’s health measures. Unforgivable.”

As well as the Metropolitan Police tweet on May 20, critics also noted a speech from then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden just an hour before the alleged party, in which he told the public: “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart.”

It comes after another scandal in which footage emerged of the Prime Minister’s former spokesperson Allegra Stratton holding a mock briefing joking about a Christmas party at Downing Street with “no social distancing” while the country was in lockdown.