Fresh Downing Street party claims land Johnson in royal mess
London, Jan 14 (EFE).- Fresh reports of two more parties allegedly held by Downing Street staff on the eve of the socially-distanced funeral of Prince Philip last year, during which Queen Elizabeth sat alone due to Covid-19 restrictions, have added fuel to a cacophony of calls for prime minister Boris Johnson to resign.
The Daily Telegraph, a conservative newspaper that once employed Johnson, claimed in an exclusive report late Thursday that two farewell parties on 16 April 2021 ran until the early hours of the following morning and were in breach of the Covid-19 rules in place at the time.
Johnson did not attend either party, but the allegations provide more ammunition to his political foes, who have called on the PM to step down over separate social gatherings at No.10 when the country was in lockdown.
Hours after the parties wrapped up, the nation tuned into the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Footage of the Queen sitting apart from her family, resonated with the general public at a time when funerals had to have limited guest numbers due to Covid-19 restrictions.
At that time, the United Kingdom was in its second stage of easing its lockdown, but socializing indoors was prohibited and outdoor meetings were still limited to six people.
This did not stop some 30 revelers from drinking and dancing into the night at the two Downing Street parties on April 16, according to the Telegraph.
One of the parties was held to bid farewell to Johnson’s former communications director James Slack, who had taken up a sub-director position with The Sun, a sensationalist tabloid where he still works.
In a statement, Slack apologized “unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused.”
“This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry, and take full responsibility,” he added, apparently confirming the party had taken place.
The revelations are the latest in what has become a steady stream of reports that Downing Street staff, including the prime minister, allegedly broke Covid-19 regulations by hosting events when the UK was in lockdown.
On Wednesday, an increasingly embattled Johnson apologized for having attended a gathering in Downing Street’s gardens in May 2020 but stated that he believed he was going to a work event, an excuse few of members of the Labour Party-led opposition bought.
He added that he remained at the event for no more than 25 minutes and that he had been invited by his personal secretary and had not seen an email distributed to staff inviting them to “socially distanced drinks” to make the most of “the lovely weather.”
The PM has dismissed calls to step down, stating that he would wait for the findings of an internal investigation that is being led by civil servant Sue Gray.
Criticism has not been limited to his political opponents but has also come from inside his own Conservative Party, including from the leader of the Scottish branch of the Tories, Douglas Murray. EFE