How many parties did Downing Street have? All the alleged No 10 events as Boris Johnson faces calls to resign

How many parties did Downing Street have? All the alleged No 10 events as Boris Johnson faces calls to resign

Boris Johnson was already facing calls to resign after he admitted attending a large gathering in the Downing Street garden while the rest of the country was under lockdown restrictions in May 2020.

In an apology issued this week, the Prime Minister said he believed he was attending a work event. But the pressure on Mr Johnson ramped up on Friday after reports surfaced of two new parties held inside Number 10 in April 2021.

They were held just hours before the Queen sat alone at the funeral of her husband Prince Philip, due to social distancing measures in place at the time.

Here, i looks at all of the allegations of lockdown rule-breaking facing the Government.

15 May 2020: Wine and pizza in No 10 garden

Mr Johnson has been pictured sitting in the No 10 garden with about 20 civil servants and Tory aides with food and drinks.

He is alleged by sources to have told one aide that they deserved a drink for “beating back” coronavirus, as around 20 staff drank alcohol and ate pizza.

Covid-19 restrictions at the time permitted the public to meet with only one other person from another household in an outdoor public place, at a distance of two metres.

20 May 2020: No 10 ‘BYOB’ party

On 20 May, the Prime Minister’s Private Personal Secretary invited about 100 people to gather in the No 10 garden after work for some “socially distanced drinks” to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

He instructed them to “BYOB” – bring your own booze. Guests arrived from 6pm, with many getting their own drinks from a trip to the Westminster Tesco Express – as the email invite had suggested – and mingled with each other until late.

The Prime Minister has admitted that he attended the party, which featured between 30 and 40 guests. Mr Johnson claimed he thought the gathering was a work event and said he only stayed for 25 minutes.

The garden was reportedly left in such a poor state that the Downing Street cleaners lodged a complaint.

13 November 2020: Downing Street ‘flat party

The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, claims that Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie hosted a party at their Downing Street flat.

The alleged event occurred just over a week into the UK’s second national lockdown, which came into force on 5 November and was lifted on 2 December, when England entered the tier system of restrictions.

During this time, non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues were closed as well as pubs, bars and restaurants, and people were urged to stay at home except for limited reasons including work if it could not be done from home.

Mr Johnson has denied that a party went ahead in his flat on 13 November and a spokesperson said the claim was “total nonsense”.

27 November 2020: Cleo Watson leaving do

The Prime Minister is alleged to have delivered a speech at a leaving party for senior aide Cleo Watson at No 10, while the national lockdown was still in place.

When asked about this by journalists, the PM said Downing Street staff “work extremely hard” and “according to extremely well-respected civil servants and special advisors who I’ve talked to about what happened in the events that you describe, no rules were broken”.

He added: “The guidance and the rules have been observed at all times.”

15 December 2020: Downing Street Christmas quiz

The Prime Minister has been pictured as the quizmaster of a No 10 virtual Christmas quiz on 15 December. While many of the participants joined via Zoom, the PM was pictured sitting between two colleagues and the Sunday Mirror reported that staff were “huddled by computers, conferring on questions and knocking back fizz, wine and beer”.

At the time Tier 2 restrictions were still in place. Downing Street has claimed the quiz was remote.

18 December 2020: Downing Street Christmas party

Between 40 and 50 people allegedly attended a Christmas Party in Downing Street three days after the quiz.

No 10 officials were filmed joking about the party in a mock press conference, prompting the resignation from her Government role of Allegra Stratton, who had been press secretary at the time.

16 April 2021: Downing Street leaving parties

Two leaving parties took place at No 10 on 16 April 2021- one for then-director of Communications (and now deputy editor of The Sun) James Slack, and one for the Prime Minister’s personal photographer. They later merged into one gathering.

One staffer was reportedly DJing while another was sent out with a suitcase to buy wine. The Prime Minister was away from Downing Street on the day of the events.

At the time indoor socialising with people outside your household or bubble was banned.

The events took place the night before the Queen was pictured sitting alone at the funeral of her husband due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Slack has apologised “unreservedly” for his part in it, and Labour shadow Cabinet member Emily Thornberry said that the Prime Minister should apologise to the Queen for the events.

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Outside of No 10

Allegations of rule-breaking have also been aimed at other Government departments, including the Treasury and the Department for Transport, and the Conservative Party itself.

25 November 2020: Treasury staff soirée

Treasury staff reportedly held a soirée at the office following the release of the Autumn Spending Review earlier that day. According to the The Times, about two dozen civil servants were present at the event, which took place in the midst of the November lockdown.

A spokesperson insisted only a “small number” of staff celebrated around their desks and said: “The Treasury did not organise an in-person departmental party last Christmas.” It is understood that Chancellor Rishi Sunak was not at the event.

10 December 2020: Department for Education Christmas party

At least two dozen people are alleged to have attended a Christmas party at the Department for Education. The party featured “drinks and canapes”, according to the Mirror. At the time, indoor socialising was banned in the capital under Tier 2 restrictions.

The DfE did not deny Covid rules had been broken and admitted “it would have been better” not to have held the event while the rest of the country was banned from doing so.

14 December 2020: Shaun Bailey drinks

The campaign team for Shaun Bailey’s bid for the Mayor of London organised a gathering in the basement of the Conservative headquarters. Around 25 people attended – allegedly including No 10 aides. The capital was under Tier 2 restrictions at the time

Mr Bailey resigned from his role as chair of the London Assembly police and crime committee after a photograph emerged of him at the party.

16 December 2020: Department for Transport party

The Department for Transport (DfT) held a Christmas gathering with senior civil servants “boozing and dancing”, reported the Daily Mirror.

London moved into Tier 3 “Very High Alert” that morning, meaning indoor household mixing was banned and the rule of six was in place outdoors.

The DfT responded that the event was “inappropriate” and an “error of judgement” by staff. A spokesman for Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he had “absolutely no idea” about the event and a source claimed he was “deeply unhappy” about the behaviour.

17 December 2020: Cabinet Office Christmas party

Sources have reported that a gathering of up to 20 staff was held in the Cabinet Office for a Christmas quiz. The Times reported that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended the party and invitations were titled “Christmas Party!”. Tier 3 was in place at this time.

The Cabinet Office confirmed a quiz took place over Zoom, with some people joining in from their desks. A spokesperson said: “The Cabinet Secretary played no part in the event but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office.”

Mr Case stepped down from his role investigating the alleged lockdown-breaking parties after the claims emerged.

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