Boris Johnson Accused Of Flouting Covid Rules With No 10 Parties Last Christmas

As the release of Sue Gray’s investigation into alleged Downing Street parties grows ever nearer, people around the country are waiting with bated breath for the report on her findings.

Although no concrete timeline for the release of the report is currently in place, sources in Westminster have suggested it could be mere hours away before her findings are shared with the public - and with the Prime Minister himself.

The Metropolitan Police have also begun an investigation into the alleged Covid lockdown breaches, amid calls for the PM to resign.

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The allegations have caused considerable outrage across the country. But what could the investigation find?

Here are five questions Sue Gray's report could answer.

1. Was Prime Minister Boris Johnson directly involved in lockdown breaches?

This is the vital question. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently admitted to attending a highly controversial garden drinks party on May 20, 2020, but insists that the event was a “work event” to his knowledge.

The news was widely criticised by opposition MPs, who reminded the PM that the event had been organised by one of his own senior aides, who encouraged guests to “bring their own booze” as they attended the soiree held in Downing Street’s own gardens.

But could Gray's report contain evidence that counters Johnson's claim he was unaware of a lockdown breach?

Throughout all of his comments regarding the incident, the PM has repeatedly stated that he believed “implicitly that this was a work event”.

But allegations from ITV that the PM also attended a birthday party during lockdown last June are now also being investigated.

MPs will be tasked with weighing up her findings against Mr Johnson’s repeated assertions in the House of Commons that “all guidance was followed”, with several of his own cabinet ministers already having stressed the importance of adhering to the ministerial code, which stipulates that if a member has knowingly misled parliament, then they should resign.

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2. What was the culture in No 10 and who is responsible for it?

In her report, Gray is expected to address claims about 'boozy work culture’ purported to be prevalent in Downing Street – with reports that there is even a designated wine fridge.

“It was a culture of 3am sessions,” a Downing Street insider told The Times. “People used to sleep off their hangovers in the buildings overnight on sofas and in the mornings there were empty drinks on the desks that the cleaners had to pick up. There was a culture of boozing.”

There is also expected to be a strong focus on two parties in particular that were held on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral and that allegedly featured a late-night trip to the supermarket to fill a suitcase with bottles of wine.

Allegations of a number of parties have been made in the weeks since the original story broke, with people in Downing Street accused of being in direct contravention of Covid restrictions in place at the time, but how many parties did actually take place?

Could the report see more revealed to the public?

And was Boris Johnson an integral part of the culture that allowed the alleged flouting of rules to happen despite recent assertions from Conservative chair, Oliver Dowden, that the PM was the perfect person to overhaul what he called, “the kind of culture that has allowed [the partying] to happen in the first place”?

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3. Will any senior civil servants and advisers will be named?

Only one person has so far quit over ‘partygate’, Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s former press secretary. Although she herself did not attend the Christmas bash that sparked public outrage, she was caught on camera joking about it and subsequently tended her resignation.

Martin Reynolds, however, Boris Johnson’s current principal private secretary, could face the consequences of an email sent to Downing Street guests that was leaked to ITV News.

The now infamous email revealed that he had invited over 100 Downing Street staff to a garden party held on May 20 2020 - with the news prompting many MPs, including some Conservatives, to call on the PM to quit.

In the email, Reynolds wrote: “Hi all, after what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden this evening. Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

Another member of Johnson’s team, Director of Communications, Jack Doyle, is also expected to be named specifically, following his own offer to resign over the matter back in December 2021.

Mr.Doyle had himself attended one of the PM’s lockdown parties and even given a speech at one, while Covid restrictions were in place, two separate sources told the BBC.

4. How many other MPs besides Boris Johnson were involved?

So far, it is only Chancellor Rishi Sunak, that appears to have been in the building on the day of the alleged birthday bash thrown for Boris Johnson, although aides have repeatedly asserted that he was not in attendance and was instead waiting for a meeting.

Sue Gray is expected to look into a number of individual parties at both the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions, to see if the alleged rule flouting ‘party culture’ extends beyond Downing Street.

5. What about the alleged Number 10 flat parties in lockdown?

A number of sources, including disgraced political strategist Dominic Cummings, have suggested that there may have been multiple social gatherings held in the recently renovated Downing Street flat during the pandemic.

One was allegedly held on the night of Cummings’ very own departure from government, with a number of witnesses reporting that they had heard loud music coming from the upstairs flat.

If Gray unearths any evidence in connection to these parties, it would not only add further weight to a police investigation that is due to take place into alleged Covid breaches, but would also further undermine the argument that Downing Street’s alleged party culture was not directly connected to the PM himself.

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Source : https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/sue-gray-inquiry-five-key-22881416

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