Under-pressure Prime Minister Boris Johnson is claimed to have led some of the ‘partygate’ celebrations police are currently handing out fines for. Mr Johnson is braced for further tickets for attending parties during the Covid lockdowns, including the leaving bash for former director of communications Lee Cain in November 2020.
According to the Mirror, the event began with the press office having drinks to round off the week but turned into a party once Mr Johnson arrived. An official photographer was even believed to have been present throughout and taken pictures of the PM breaking the rules.
“This wasn’t a leaving drinks. This was the usual press office Friday evening wash-up drinks,” one insider told the Sunday Times. “Boris came fumbling over, red box in tow, and he gathered the staff around the press office table, which did have bottles of alcohol on it. He said he wanted to say a few words for Lee and started pouring drinks for people and drinking himself. He toasted him.”
Mr Johnson later headed upstairs to the official flat where his wife Carrie Johnson was alleged to have been hosting a small party with friends.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “If the latest reports are true, it would mean that not only did the Prime Minister attend parties, but he had a hand in instigating at least one of them. He has deliberately misled the British people at every turn. The Prime Minister has demeaned his office.”
Downing Street sources did not dispute the description of Mr Cain’s leaving do, but denied that the PM had organised it. After the Mirror revealed that regular ‘wine-time Fridays’ were held during lockdown, one source said: “Boris could see everyone sitting there drinking as he walked up [to his flat].
“He would come in and say ‘Hello everyone had a hard week? Letting off some steam? Oh great’. The idea that he didn’t know there were drinks is total nonsense. If the PM tells you to ‘let off steam’, he’s basically saying this is fine.”
Mr Johnson is understood to have been present at least six of the 12 events being investigated by the Metropolitan Police for breaking Covid rules. The PM is expected to make a statement to Parliament on Tuesday about the fine, where he is set to to apologise for breaking the rules but insist he was not aware he had done so.
He will then meet all Tory MPs on Tuesday evening for a ‘clear the air’ discussion designed to shore up support as they return to Westminster after the Easter break. But the PM faces a vote on Wednesday on whether he will be referred to the Commons privileges committee, which would investigate if he had misled MPs over Partygate.