Boris Johnson told to come clean over ‘BYOB’ Downing Street garden 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)

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.

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    No government response to 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.

    Downing Street has refused to say whether Mr Johnson attended the event in Number 10’s garden on May 20 2020.

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

    ‘We have seen people resign for less’

    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.”

    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.

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