James O'Brien's damning verdict on No10 staff holding parties while Queen mourned

14 January 2022, 12:55

James O'Brien's damning verdict on two Downing Street parties held before Prince Philip's funeral

By Amelia Isaacs

This was James O'Brien's damning verdict of parties held at No10 while the Queen mourned Prince Philip.

The monologue comes as Boris Johnson faces calls to resign after reports that two parties were held by No 10 staff the night before the Monarch attended her husband's funeral alone.

On Friday a spokesman for the Prime Minister said Downing Street had said sorry to the Palace following the reports.

The spokesman said: "It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No 10 has apologised to the Palace.

"You heard from the PM this week, he's recognised No 10 should be held to the highest standards and take responsibility for things we did not get right."

James reflected on what he called his "little list" of what he was not able to celebrate properly during the pandemic, saying he was incredibly lucky it is not longer.

Read more: No10 says sorry to the Queen after lockdown-breaking party night before Philip's funeral

Emily Thornberry's blistering attack on Boris Johnson over partygate

James said: "You'll have a list as well, of the things you and your family couldn't do.

"I don't know what else was on the Queen's list. Her Majesty the Queen.

"I'm not a particular royalist but...I don't think you'll get a better Royal than the Queen. 

"The combination of what you call duty, someone else might call what's needed for survival.

"But if you look at the state of her son Andrew, the Queen is a pretty special person.

"And that photograph of the Queen at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, and don't think of her as a bastion of privilege or as a figurehead of unfairness, think of her today as a wife, a widow, a mourning woman reduced to sitting alone in a corner of the abbey, socially-distanced from her nearest and dearest."

Read more: No10 staff held two boozy parties hours before Prince Philip's funeral

He asked listeners to contrast this image with that of Boris Johnson's staff partying.

James said: "Focus for a moment upon the idea of the seat of her government, No 10 Downing Street, in the small hours of that day, hosting parties that not only featured one advisor acting as a DJ and dancing but also allegedly involved one person going to a nearby co-op with a suitcase and smuggling bottles of wine back into Boris Johnson's Downing Street in, I imagine, a direct contravention of the law at the time."

Two of the alleged parties were leaving dos, one of which was for James Slack, Boris Johnson's then-director of communications and now Deputy Editor at The Sun. 

Mr Slack wrote the "despicable" and "utterly horrific" Daily Mail front page 'Enemies of the People'.

James said: "The Deputy Editor of The Sun was the subject of one of the parties which saw people smuggling wine into Downing St. and dancing in the small hours of the day upon which Her Majesty the Queen said goodbye to her husband in socially-distanced circumstances.

"So the self-appointed patriots, the liars, the ones who drape themselves in flags and claim that they care deeply about these intangible principles of pride that can be loosely filed under 'Rule Britannia',

"All of them today either come out and absolutely condemn what has happened and call for the ring leader, call for the organ grinder, to do what any decent person would probably have done last week, and walk away. Or, you render yourself a complete hypocrite."

James finished by noting the Queen's historic appeal. 

He said: "I think it's because the Queen, on this occasion, represents all of us.

"I saw the Queen sitting alone at her husband's funeral and I thought immediately of my friend, who we had to say goodbye to in ridiculously straightened circumstances.

"And they had a party the night before the Queen had to say goodbye to Prince Philip in similarly straightened circumstances." 

Read more: 'It was a work event': Boris sorry for attending No10 lockdown party but won't resign

Read more: Four days after party email, my dad died. I’ve missed him every day since

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