LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the subject of criticism on Tuesday after it emerged that his private secretary had invited more than 100 people to a party to which guests had to bring your own bottles of alcohol in the Downing Street garden during the first coronavirus lockdown
Johnson, who won a landslide victory in the 2019 election, has found himself at the center of controversy for the past month after a video surfaced showing his staff laughing and joking about a party at Downing Street during a 2020 Christmas lockdown.
The revelations about a series of parties in Downing Street have drawn popular derision, sparking jokes from comedians and criticism from opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer, who said Johnson lacked the moral authority to run the country.
Johnson and his partner, Carrie, were among those who met with some 40 employees in the Downing Street garden on May 20, 2020, after the Prime Minister’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, sent an email invitation. , as reported by ITV.
“After such a busy period, we thought it would be nice to take advantage of the good weather and have some social distancing drinks in the garden of Number 10 (Downing Street, the prime minister’s residence) tonight,” Reynolds said in the email, as reported by ITV.
“Please join us starting at 6pm and bring your own drink.”
At the time of the meeting, schools were closed for most students, and pubs and restaurants were closed, with strict controls on social activity.
So strict were the rules at the time that police punished people for partying, erected random checkpoints in some areas, and in central England’s Derbyshire, they used drones to monitor sights.
Johnson’s office declined to comment on the ITV information. A senior government official, Sue Gray, is currently investigating allegations of at least five parties held in government departments last year during lockdown restrictions.
Edward Argar, a junior health minister, said he understood the pain that media news about the Downing Street festivities could cause.
“I can understand the pain that these reports, these accusations, will have caused, particularly for those who have lost loved ones,” Argar told Sky News.
“It would not be appropriate … for me to comment on those ongoing conversations or their ongoing investigation. We have to give a space to conclude that investigation.”
In recent months, the 57-year-old Johnson has faced criticism for his handling of a corruption scandal, awarding lucrative COVID contracts, renovating his Downing Street apartment, and charging that he intervened to ensure the evacuation of pets from Kabul during the chaotic western retreat in August.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; edited by Guy Faulconbridge, translated by Tomás Cobos)