politics

Boris Johnson told to ‘sort it out or step aside’ as fury erupts over No10’s lockdown-smashing garden party


BORIS Johnson went into hiding yesterday amid the worst crisis of his premiership over No10’s lockdown garden party.

Senior Tories and donors questioned BoJo’s future after he did not deny attending the rule-breaking “bring your own booze” bash in May 2020.

Mr Johnson went to ground and dodged a heated and at times tearful Commons showdown yesterday

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Mr Johnson went to ground and dodged a heated and at times tearful Commons showdown yesterdayCredit: London News Pictures
A picture emerged of him having cheese and wine alongside his wife and staff in his Downing Street garden during the first Covid lockdown raising questions over No 10’s insistence it was a 'work meeting'

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A picture emerged of him having cheese and wine alongside his wife and staff in his Downing Street garden during the first Covid lockdown raising questions over No 10’s insistence it was a ‘work meeting’Credit: Guardian

Mobile phone tycoon John Caudwell, a leading Tory donor, branded the scandal “disastrous”.

He warned the PM: “Sort it out, Boris, or step aside and let someone else sort it out so that the Tories aren’t wiped out at the next election.”

The Phones4U founder added: “While the rest of us were striving to follow the ever-changing rules — including myself, even when I deemed them to be excessive at best, nonsensical at worst — those who were setting those rules were, apparently freely and frequently, disregarding them.”

Mr Johnson went to ground and dodged a heated and at times tearful Commons showdown yesterday.

It came after a bombshell leaked email from his top official confirmed the May 20, 2020 “bring your own booze” garden bash.

Downing Street did not deny the PM and wife Carrie attended the party, that eyewitnesses claim saw 40 civil servants and aides “enjoy the sunshine” while mixing was banned for the rest of the country.

But the PM stood by embattled mandarin Martin Reynolds, who defied warnings to invite more than 100 staff to the booze-up, insisting he “remained in post” last night.

Mr Johnson’s fate now lies in the hands of veteran Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray, who is probing multiple lockdown breaches in Downing Street.

The Government was paralysed with fear last night that the famed tough-nut will find Mr Johnson to have personally broken the law.

No10 is refusing to comment until her investigation is complete.

Aides are worried a confession of wrongdoing from the PM could lead to a formal police investigation and potential resignation.

The Metropolitan Police are looking at the claims following pressure from opposition parties.

POLICE LOOKING AT CLAIMS

Mr Johnson faces a Commons mauling at Prime Minister’s Questions today but hid behind junior minister Michael Ellis yesterday.

The Paymaster General insisted BoJo “is going nowhere” and “retains the confidence of the people of this country”. Drawing the short straw to front the anger of MPs, he insisted he had “confidence” in Mr Johnson’s “integrity and honour”.

But Health Minister Ed Argar told the BBC: “I can entirely understand why people who’ve lost loved ones, or people who’ve just had their lives hugely disrupted by these restrictions, are angry and upset by these allegations.”

More than a dozen senior Tories broke cover to question the PM’s version of events.

Before Christmas Mr Johnson told MPs there had been no parties in No10 and he was “furious” about claims of rule breaking by staff.

A picture emerged of him having cheese and wine alongside his wife and staff in his Downing Street garden during the first Covid lockdown raising questions over No 10’s insistence it was a “work meeting”.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “If the PM has misled Parliament he must resign.”

Ex-Defence Minister Johnny Mercer added: “I’m sorry. It’s humiliating, and does not reflect the majority of my colleagues who at least try and lead by example.”

‘HE MUST RESIGN’

Right-winger Philip Davies chimed in: “For some of the people who imposed those damaging laws to have been ignoring them will be a bitter pill to swallow for those who faithfully followed them even at huge personal cost, and is impossible to justify and defend.”

Nigel Mills hit out: ‘I can’t see how anybody who organised a party or willingly chose to attend one can stay in any position where they’re setting Covid policy’

Former leader in Scotland Baroness Davidson fired a direct rocket at the PM, saying: “What tf were any of these people thinking?”

She added: “If No10 doesn’t understand the anger that is out there, then they’re going to find out that anger pretty soon in the next couple of days.”

Public support for Boris Johnson was crumbling last night, a poll suggests.
Two thirds of Brits think the PM should resign over the party scandal, Savanta ComRes found. It is 12 points higher than a snap poll taken after the Christmas Party was revealed at the end of last year.

And just a quarter think he is still an asset to the Tory party.

Hannah Brady, of the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, whose father’s death certificate was signed on the day of the “socially distanced drinks”, wrote to the PM calling for him to say whether he attended the event.

She said: “It is a matter of common decency and respect for not only us or the British people, but the office you hold as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to tell us whether you attended this flagrant breach of the Government’s own rules.”

Mr Johnson’s fate now lies in the hands of veteran Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray, who is probing multiple lockdown breaches in Downing Street

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Mr Johnson’s fate now lies in the hands of veteran Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray, who is probing multiple lockdown breaches in Downing StreetCredit: PA
But the PM stood by embattled mandarin Martin Reynolds, who defied warnings to invite more than 100 staff to the booze-up, insisting he 'remained in post' last night
But the PM stood by embattled mandarin Martin Reynolds, who defied warnings to invite more than 100 staff to the booze-up, insisting he ‘remained in post’ last night
The Government was paralysed with fear last night that the famed tough-nut will find Mr Johnson to have personally broken the law - pictured with Reynolds

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The Government was paralysed with fear last night that the famed tough-nut will find Mr Johnson to have personally broken the law – pictured with ReynoldsCredit: Reuters

Tables set up by lunchtime

PREPARATIONS for the 6pm garden party started at lunchtime when trestle tables were set up in the spring sunshine.

Just 55 minutes before it began, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, at No10, urged Brits not to mix, saying: “If everyone follows the rules, we can control coronavirus.”

Some 100 were invited to the “bring your own booze” drinks and nibbles do.

MP Jim Shannon breaks down in Commons telling how mother-in-law died alone of Covid during debate on No10 lockdown party





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