politics

Every single Downing Street party as Boris Johnson faces furious calls to resign



At least FIFTEEN parties have been uncovered across Downing Street, Whitehall and Tory HQ while millions suffered under lockdown rules.

Boris Johnson is accused of attending at least four of the events as the Prime Minister faces mounting pressure to resign.

The Mirror led the way in revealing the first parties but many others have since been uncovered by a string of media outlets.

We also revealed No10 staff had “wine time Fridays” scheduled every week and would dash to the local Tesco Express with a wheelie suitcase to stock up their £142 wine fridge.

Covid bereaved families have blasted the bashes, and No10’s repeated attempts to obscure the truth before the PM finally apologised.






A photo has emerged of a wine fridge being delivered to No10 in December 2020





The £142 fridge was stocked up via booze runs to a local Tesco

Top civil servant Sue Gray is probing a range of the parties, spanning May 2020 to April 2021, and is expected to publish a report within days.

At the time of all these gatherings, indoor socialising was banned to control the spread of the virus.

But ultimately the Prime Minister will get to decide himself if he has breached the Ministerial Code.

And Boris Johnson is reportedly planning to force out a string of top staff to save himself in what is dubbed ‘Operation Big Dog’.

Here we round up what the allegations are – and what government figures were telling YOU to do at the time.

Throughout: ‘Wine time Fridays’

Downing Street staff held ‘wine-time Fridays’ throughout the pandemic with Boris Johnson regularly witnessing the gatherings.

Sources told the Mirror the Prime Minister encouraged aides to “let off steam” despite indoor socialising being banned under lockdown rules.

The regular event was so popular that staff even invested in a £142 drinks fridge to keep their bottles of white wine, Prosecco and beer cool.

Sources claimed aides took turns on Fridays to visit the local Tesco Metro in Westminster with a wheely suitcase to fill up the 34-bottle capacity fridge.






Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating the parties

May 15, 2020: Wine and cheese in No10 garden

On the day 421 people died, around 20 No10 staff including Boris and Carrie Johnson gathered in the sunshine in the Downing Street garden.

England was still in its first lockdown, with gatherings in gardens banned completely and a two-person limit on meeting in the park.

Boris Johnson insisted it was a meeting of “people at work, talking about work” despite the fact he was talking to his fiancee.

Among others in the photo were Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the PM’s top aide Martin Reynolds (see below).

May 20: BYOB party attended by Boris Johnson

The PM’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds invited 100 No10 staff to “make the most of the lovely weather ” and “bring your own booze!”.

Boris Johnson later admitted spending 25 minutes at the party, claiming he thought it was a work event but then refusing to answer further questions.

The Sunday Times reported there were 40 people and “long tables laden with drink, crisps, sausage rolls and other picnic food. It was a proper booze-up.”

Yards away 55 minutes earlier, minister Oliver Dowden told a No10 press conference: “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place – provided that you stay two metres apart”.







Boris Johnson finally apologising over the BYOB bash
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Image:

via REUTERS)

November 13: ‘Flat party’ on night Cummings quit

Sources told the Mirror No10 aides “drank their socks off” at an alleged gathering in Boris and Carrie Johnson’s flat above 11 Downing Street.

Staff reported hearing “loud music pumping out of the flat” late into the night after Dominic Cummings quit that night in a blaze of publicity.

The Mail on Sunday even described it at the time as a “victory party” celebrating the departure of Mr Cummings – a rival of Carrie Johnson.

Mr Cummings has claimed there was a party in the flat on November 13 and “other flat parties” that should be investigated.

A spokeswoman for Mrs Johnson dismissed the claims as “total nonsense”, adding: “Mrs Johnson has followed coronavirus rules at all times and it is categorically untrue to suggest otherwise.”

England was in a national lockdown and that day the UK recorded 436 Covid deaths – the second-highest daily total since May.







Cummings was one of Boris’ closest advisers until he was sacked in November 2020
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Image:

Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

November 13: Leaving drinks for Lee Cain in Downing Street

Sources told the Mirror a relatively small number of people gathered for drinks in No10’s ‘round table room’ to mark two top aides’ departure.

As well as Dominic Cummings walking out, the PM’s Communications Director Lee Cain left his job – on less hostile terms. He posed grinning with Mr Johnson and “Get Brexit Done” boxing gloves that night.

Sources suggested the PM gave a “shambolic” speech, everyone was gone by about 9pm and it was a relatively low-key affair.






Boris Johnson and Lee Cain on the night he left 10 Downing Street

November 25: Treasury drinks to celebrate Spending Review

Officials held impromptu drinks to celebrate Rishi Sunak’s Spending Review during the November lockdown.

Around two dozen civil servants took part in the unplanned event, with wine and beer brought in, according to The Times.

Non-essential shops, bars and restaurants were still closed at the time due to lockdown rules. Mr Sunak was not present and was understood to have been unaware.

November 27: Leaving do drinks for Cummings ally

Sources told the Mirror 40 to 50 people crammed into a room in No10 for a leaving do for top aide Cleo Watson.

It is alleged there were drinks and a party which went on until late into the night – and Boris Johnson gave a speech.

No10 refused to comment on the claims, saying they will be investigated by Sue Gray.

Dominic Cummings claimed: “There was no party on Fri 27/11. Red herring. A staff member left their job. Walked to press office to say bye, PM bumbled in & started babbling, everyone embarrassed, dispersed.” He is an ally of Ms Watson.

Hours earlier Boris Johnson told a No10 press conference: “If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus all over again, casting aside our hard won gains, and forcing us back into a New Year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean.”







Boris Johnson on a visit to a distillery (file photo)
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Image:

Tolga Akmen/Lnp/REX/Shutterstock)

December 10: Party at the Department for Education

The Mirror revealed up to two dozen of then-Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s top team gathered for “drinks and canapes” in his department’s cafe.

Susan Acland-Hood, the department’s top civil servant, admitted to she had been present and officials found to have broken the rules will face disciplinary action.

One source told the Mirror: “There were lots of people gathered in the cafe area, mingling and drinking wine. It was just so reckless”.

Another source added: “He hosted a drinks do when people were considering whether they could spend Christmas with their families.”







Cops are probing a gathering at CCHQ on December 14, pictured
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Image:

Mirror)

December 14: ‘Raucous’ party at Tory HQ

The Mirror published an extraordinary image of a “raucous” Christmas party thrown by Tory aides during Covid restrictions last Christmas.

It shows 24 people crowded together – in blatant breach of lockdown rules – in a medium-sized room in the party’s Westminster HQ.

Some of the group are shown wearing paper hats while one is sporting a House of Commons Christmas jumper and a sumptuous spread of food sits on the side.

The event organised by top Tory Shaun Bailey ’s mayoral campaign, took place when London was in Tier 2 – which banned indoor socialising.

After he was approached by the Mirror, Mr Bailey dramatically quit as chair of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee.

Police later said they would speak to two people who were at the bash.

December 15: Boris Johnson hosts No10 Christmas Quiz

Boris Johnson hosted a Christmas quiz virtually but with two staff by his side, and sources said many stuff huddled by computers in No10 to take part while drinking booze from a local Tesco Metro.

London was then under Tier 2 regulations banning social mixing between households.

Official guidance also stated: “You must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier.”







The Mirror’s exclusive photo of Boris Johnson hosting the No10 Christmas quiz
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Image:

mirrorpix.com)

December 16: Grant Shapps’ staff threw Christmas bash

Tory minister Grant Shapps ‘ staff threw a Christmas party in a Whitehall office the day London was plunged into Tier 3 restrictions.

The Transport Secretary denies all knowledge of the festive do, where senior civil servants were “boozing and dancing” after work from 5pm.

The same day, the Government imposed Tier 3 curbs on the capital, which saw pubs closed and banned people from different households mixing.

Senior staff from the Cabinet Minister’s private office planned the rule-breaking bash and almost a dozen joined for the knees-up, sources claimed.

December 17: Woman who wrote Covid laws had leaving do

The official who was in charge of writing Covid rules admitted to having a leaving do while indoor socialising was banned.

Kate Josephs, the former Director General of the Covid Taskforce, was given a grand send off in the Cabinet Office “with drinks”.

On December 16 London had moved to Tier 3 which banned all indoor mixing except in household bubbles.

Bars, pubs and restaurants were also closed and Brits were urged to work from home if they could do so.

She said: “I am truly sorry that I did this and for the anger that people will feel as a result.”







Kate Josephs was in charge of forming the nation’s Covid rules
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Image:

@katejosephs/Twitter)

December 18: The original No10 Christmas party

Party stories cascaded out after the Mirror broke the original tale of the No10 Christmas party.

No10 dodged questions for a week before bombshell video emerged of staff joking about it – prompting former Press Secretary Allegra Stratton to resign.

She had joked with colleagues that there had been “wine and cheese” and the Friday night bash was “not socially distanced”.

Officials knocked back glasses of wine and held a Secret Santa while the rest of the country was forced to stay at home.

According to later reports, people made speeches and stayed until 2am, with Boris Johnson not present but working a few rooms away in his office.

“It was a Covid nightmare,” one source told the Mirror.

The next day, Boris Johnson tore up planned Christmas bubbles and told the nation: “It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”

December 2020 (date unknown): Department for Work and Pensions

Karaoke-loving Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey’s staff regularly drank alcohol late into the night in her private Whitehall office throughout the pandemic.

Political staff and officials would frequently drink after work until the early hours, and order takeaway food to Ms Coffey’s DWP office – despite bans on hospitality and office parties.

A DWP insider said: “There is a constant flow of booze in the office.” At one such occasion in the run up to Christmas, Ms Coffey gave presents to her team.

December 2020 (date unknown): Parties investigator had party

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case had to recuse himself from probing parties after it emerged his own office held lockdown-busting parties last year.

Number 10 has insisted the Cabinet Secretary’s inquiry would be “credible” and “independent.

But reports on the Guido Fawkes blog revealed two parties – one planned, the second an impromptu gathering after work – took place in Mr Case’s office at 70 Whitehall.

It’s claimed a party organised by staff in his Private Office was attended by around 15 people and featured drinking and music.

While Mr Case was not “actively participating”, it’s claimed he was spotted “sticking his head into the room to call staff out at various points during the party to talk with them.”

April 16, 2021: ‘Suitcase of wine’ party on eve of Philip’s funeral

On the No10 roof, the Union flag was flying at half-mast in mourning for Prince Philip – who the Queen would bury alone the next day.

But in the basement, a staffer nicknamed “DJ” was blaring out tunes from a laptop on a photocopier at a boozy party.

One No10 staffer was also dispatched to the Co-Op on the Strand, 10 minutes’ walk away, to fill a suitcase with wine.

Staff held two leaving dos, one for a photographer and the other for former chief spin doctor James Slack.

According to reports, staff had a go on a swing belonging to the PM’s baby son Wilf and broke it.

Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after it emerged.

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