Boris Johnson apologies to MPs over 2021 lockdown party

The PM faces a growing political storm after admitting to attending a drinks party that took place in the garden of 10 Downing Street during the UK lockdown last May.

The apology comes after an email was sent to 100 people who work in Downing Street and invited them to “socially distanced drinks in the No 10 Garden.”

The email was sent on behalf of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, and it is understood that around 30 people attended the event on the 20th of May 2020.

Eyewitnesses claimed that they saw Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie there.

In his apology at Prime Minister questions, Mr Johnson told MPs that he entered the garden of Downing Street just after 18:00 to thank staff members and then returned to his office 25 minutes later.

He said that the event “could be said to fall technically within the guidance”.

The apology and email are the latest in a number of alleged parties to have taken place at Downing Street under Covid restrictions.

At the time of the party, the United Kingdoms health guidance stated that gatherings must be limited to no more than two people in an outside setting. However, the law at the time allowed for people who worked together to gather if necessary.

Mr Johnson implied to MPs that he “believed implicitly that this was a work event” and therefore the event was technically within the guidance.

However, by the time of the party the government had provided detailed guidance on workplace safety rules in offices and other work environments.

When it came to workplace gatherings, the guidelines said: “Workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.”

The guidelines also said only “essential participants should attend meetings and should also maintain two meters of separation throughout”.

Generally, safety guidelines told workers to “reduce the number of people you spend time with in a work setting”.

There is nothing in the guidelines that would suggest that drinking, socialising or any other type of work event would have been allowed.

As of current, all of the Downing Street party allegations are being investigated by senior civil servant Sue Gray as part of an independent inquiry.

After the apology, the opposition leader, Sir Kier Starmer, told the PM that he had “run out of road” over what happened in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 and asked, “will he do the decent thing and resign?”

Many of Johnson’s cabinet members, including Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab have rallied around Mr Johnson and urged MP’s to wait for the results of the inquiry.

However, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said he had had a “difficult conversation” with Mr Johnson after he apologised on Wednesday in the House of Commons.

He said he would write to the 1922 Committee, which organises Conservative leadership contests, to register his lack of confidence in the prime minister.

Sources 

https://web.archive.org/web/20200513134724/https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres#offices

Ashton Perry

Ashton Perry is a former Birmingham BSc graduate professional with six years critical writing experience. With specilisations in journalism focussed writing on climate change, politics, buisness and other news. A passionate supporter of environmentalism and media freedom, Ashton works to provide everyone with unbiased news.