Boris Johnson Accused of Attending 'BYOB' Booze Up Garden Party at No10 During COVID 2020 Lockdown

© AFP 2022 / TOLGA AKMENBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson drinks from a wine glass during the Lord Mayor's Banquet in central London on November 15, 2021
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson drinks from a wine glass during the Lord Mayor's Banquet in central London on November 15, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
After criticism over the handling of sleaze allegations, the huge Tory rebellion in the Commons, and the loss of a by-election safe seat, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been plagued by continued fallout from allegations of lockdown-violating Christmas parties in Whitehall in 2020.
As “partygate” continues to rumble on, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, have been accused of attending a 10 Downing Street garden party that breached COVID-19 rules during the first lockdown in 2020, reported The Sunday Times.
Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s principal private secretary, reportedly emailed officials, inviting them to a drinks party on 20 May, adding “BYOB” (bring your own bottle), according to sources cited by the outlet.
“There were 40 people in the garden, including Boris and Carrie. There were long tables laden with drink, crisps, sausage rolls and other picnic food. It was a proper booze-up,” a witness to the alleged event is cited as saying.
At the time of the first lockdown, introduced in late March 2020, social mixing between households was limited to two people, who could only meet outdoors and with social distancing of at least 2 metres.
In workplaces, in-person meetings were to take place if “absolutely necessary, stated the guidance.
“Martin said everyone had been working hard, so it was a good opportunity to get together in the garden. He concluded by encouraging people to bring their own booze,” a source who reportedly received the emailed invitation from Reynolds was quoted as adding.
Dominic Cummings, who departed as the Prime Minister’s chief Downing Street adviser in November 2020, had revealed in a blog post on Friday that on 20 May 2020 a senior No 10 official invited people to “socially distanced drinks” in the garden.
FILE PHOTO: Dominic Cummings, special adviser for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street, in London, Britain, November 13, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.01.2022
‘Socially Distanced Drinks’: Cummings Claims Another COVID Rule-Breaking Party Held at No.10 in 2020
The former No 10 Brexit guru claimed that he and at least one other special adviser “said that this seemed to be against the rules and should not happen”. However, the advice was purportedly ignored.
“I was ill and went home to bed early that afternoon but am told this event definitely happened," he continued, adding that the warning was “in writing so Sue Gray can dig up the original email”.
Amid the fresh revelations, there has been speculation that Reynolds might be forced to resign.
“Martin was loose with the rules. That’s why Boris likes him: because he doesn’t challenge him or stop him having fun,” said a source.
Some have suggested that Johnson is mulling a replacement for Reynolds, who might be offered a senior diplomatic role.
According to another insider cited by the Daily Mail, while there are already plans to “move Martin”, nothing will happen until the Cabinet Office report.

Xmas Parties Probe

The aforementioned email by Martin Reynolds is currently believed to be part of the evidence studied by the Cabinet Office probe launched by the PM to clear up whether rules had been broken during staff gatherings in government buildings in 2020 during the coronavirus lockdown.
The inquiry is being led by senior civil servant Sue Gray, who took over from Simon Case who recused himself after it emerged that a Christmas quiz had been held at his department amid COVID restrictions. The 20 May 2020 event will be scrutinised, along with a spate of other potentially rule-breaking gatherings.
In Late December, Boris Johnson was pictured together with his then-fiancee Carry Symonds and up to 17 staff in the 10 Downing Street garden at a “cheese and wine” gathering during lockdown in a photograph shared by The Guardian.
The image showed bottles of wine, lack of social distancing and around 19 people gathered across the Downing Street terrace and lawn. Dominic Cummings, who is also present in the picture, insisted in his Friday blog post there was nothing “illegal or unethical” regarding that day’s “staff meeting.”
A No 10 spokesperson had insisted earlier that a “work meeting” took place in the garden in the afternoon and evening on 15 May 2020.
There has not yet been any Downing Street response to allegations that the PM and his wife attended the 20 May party.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference for the latest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) update in the Downing Street briefing room, in London, Britain December 8, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
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Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner denounced the “culture of total disregard for the rules” at Downing Street from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Boris Johnson and his team are taking the country for fools. We need the report from Sue Gray’s independent investigation as soon as possible and Boris Johnson needs to face the consequences of his actions,” said Rayner.
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