Boris Johnson set to break silence on Partygate ahead of PMQs

12 January 2022, 00:16

The PM is set to break his silence on the BYOB garden party
The PM is set to break his silence on the BYOB garden party. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The Prime Minister is set to break his silence on the 'bring your own boozy' Downing Street party during PMQ's today.

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Fury was sparked when an email invitation, leaked to ITV, appeared to show the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds inviting more than 100 Downing Street employees to BYOB garden party in May 2020.

At the time people were only allowed to meet outdoors with one person from outside their household and multiple reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the event with his wife.

But after dodging question about the alleged event, Boris Johnson is today set to face a showdown at PMQs.

The Prime Minister refused to speak to MPs on Tuesday after Labour tabled an urgent question asking if he would make a statement on the issue.

And earlier in the day, his official spokesman refused to comment on the allegations of events taking place when Covid rules effectively banned parties.

Read more: Mum who lost daughter, 14, during May 2020 lockdown too devastated to say the PM's name

Read more: Two thirds of Brits say Boris should quit over Partygate, and Tory MPs left 'humiliated'

A growing number of Tories lashed out at the Prime Minister amid the fresh allegations with Conservative MP Nigel Mills saying Mr Johnson's position will be "untenable" if he knowingly attended the gathering.

Adding: "I don't think we need an inquiry to work out whether the Prime Minister was there. He knows whether he was there or not. Just come out and say what happened. If he was there he better try a hugely fulsome apology and see if the country will buy it but I'm not sure they will."

Sir Charles Walker, the vice chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, also publicly condemned the alleged party as a "huge error of judgment" stating the Prime Minister needs to spend the next six months "rebuilding public trust".

Whilst former No 10 chief of staff Lord Barwell ridiculed the PM on social media - suggesting it would not take an investigation for Boris Johnson to figure out if he had been part of the gathering.

Several MPs raised cases of constituents who suffered losses during the pandemic and were unable to attend funerals, with Michael Ellis "apologising unreservedly" for the upset caused by the allegations.

Read more: James O'Brien's powerful analogy of Boris 'sucking the souls' of those closest to him

Read more: Michael Fabricant: No10 party was fine, it wasn't as dangerous as funerals and weddings

Campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice has also written to Boris Johnson urging him to "do the right thing" and say whether he attended a garden party at Downing Street during the first lockdown.

They have asked him to apologise for "the additional hurt caused" by his reaction to being questioned about his reported presence there.

The letter was signed by Hannah Brady, who said her father's death certificate was being signed on the day of the Number 10 gathering.

The letter stated: "It is now clear that whilst my dad's death certificate was being signed and me and my younger sister were grieving alone, dozens of people were gathered, clutching a bottle they had been invited to bring, in the same place you told me you had done everything you could.

"You can only imagine the pain, anguish and anger this news has brought to me and those of us lost a loved one to Covid-19.

Read more: Up to nine Government parties held while Brits isolated, it is claimed

Read more: Who is Sue Gray, the woman in charge of No 10 Christmas parties probe

"To make matters worse, when asked about this event by Sky News you laughed, smirked and seemed to treat it as one big joke."

It added: "I call on you now to apologise for that additional hurt caused by your response."

It concluded: "If you did wrong and attended this party, or knew of it happening, do the right thing and own up to it, before any investigation forces you too, not after."

A snap poll by Savanta Comres of UK adults found 66% of people thought he should quit whilst 24% thought he should not.

How Mr Johnson will go about explaining the email, or whether he will even try to attempt this, remains to be seen.

It is thought that it could be argued that, because Downing Street is his home as well as a workplace for many others, that he has a right to use the garden during lockdown.

It could also be argued that work meetings often take place in the No 10 garden, during the day and into the evening, and that these meetings sometimes involve the consumption of alcohol.