Boris Johnson admits he attended BYO party during height of lockdown

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Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Boris Johnson is once again facing criticism after admitting he attended a party during the height of lockdown. Details of the party came to light earlier this week after a leaked email revealed that more than 100 people were invited to the bring-your-own-beverage party, which was held in Downing Street's garden in May 2020. According to witnesses, at least 30 people (including the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie Symonds) are thought to have attended.

But, despite initially declining to say whether or not he was among those at the party, today the PM admitted to the Commons that he did, in fact, attend the party – although he apologised and said he believed it to be a "work event" which he left after 25 minutes. In response, Labour leader Keir Starmer called for Johnson to resign from his position as PM, asking: "Is [the PM] going to do the decent thing and resign?" before branding him a "pathetic spectacle of a man who ran out of road."

The email in question, which was sent by Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds and obtained by ITV, shows people were invited to "socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden this evening" to "make the most of the lovely weather". The invite was sent when lockdown restrictions were still in place, and came just one hour after the government held a conference to announce new lockdown restrictions.

During the conference, government minister Oliver Dowden urged people to stay at home and limit contact with other people. Guidance at the time meant that people were permitted to meet only one other person from a different household, outside and keeping a distance of 2m apart.

There were also a number of legal restrictions in place, including that people could not leave their homes without a reasonable excuse – of which a fine of up to £3,200 could be imposed for those caught breaking the rules. This means that, if Downing Street's party took place, those in attendance would be in clear – and knowing – breach of these guidelines.

It's understandable then, that so many members of the public are once again feeling upset and angered – particularly those who lost out on precious time with loved ones – and have taken to social media to share the heartbreaking stories of what they were doing at the time of the alleged party.

"The rules about gatherings in spring 2020 were pretty clear, which is why my family held a Zoom funeral for my grandmother, one of tens of thousands taking place at the time," tweeted Financial Times' political correspondent Jim Pickard.

"There were six of us able to attend my Dad's funeral. After 65 years of marriage, my 85-year-old mum had to drive herself to the venue and sit alone during the service. It was truly awful," said another Twitter user.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

A third person added, "They were 'making the most of the nice weather'. We weren’t allowed to sit on park benches," while Green MP Caroline Lucas said: "I’ve run out of words to describe level of outrage which this represents. When families were separated, loved ones dying alone, when others [were] allowed to meet only one other person outside, PM & his government were partying - police must urgently investigate."

In light of his admission, Johnson said that although "he cannot anticipate the results" of the independent investigation (which is looking at other suspected gatherings that happened during 2020's lockdown) he knows there are "things they [the government] did not get right." Yesterday, in the House of Commons, Johnson told fellow MPs that he "can understand how infuriating it must be to think that the people who have been setting the rules, have not been following the rules, because I was also furious."


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