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Tue 25 January 2022

The Prime Minister and his spokespeople told lie after lie about the gatherings held inside Downing Street during Coronavirus lockdowns, reports Adam Bienkov

A leaked email inviting more than 100 people to a “bring your own booze” party at Downing Street during the first Coronavirus lockdown has finally confirmed what most people suspected.

For weeks, Boris Johnson, his spokespeople and senior members of his Cabinet have repeatedly claimed that no rules were broken in Downing Street during lockdown and that no parties took place at all.

This new email – obtained by ITV News – and multiple reports confirming that the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie Johnson attended at least one such party in Downing Street, have finally exposed Johnson’s claims for the lies they were.

Here are all the times the Prime Minister and his representatives have lied about the Downing Street parties.


‘COVID Rules have been Followed at All Times’

When the Daily Mirror first reported that lockdown-busting parties had taken place inside Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s spokesman flatly denied the story, telling journalists that “COVID rules have been followed at all times”.

This was a lie. At the time that the 20 May 2020 party took place, the public was banned from meeting more than one person not from their own household outside. We now know that more than 100 people were invited to the party in the Downing Street garden.


‘All Guidance was Followed Completely in Number 10’

Johnson repeated the line that no rules had been broken when first asked about it by Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions at the start of December last year.

The Prime Minister told the Labour leader that “all guidance was followed completely in Number 10”.

We now know that this was a lie.


‘I Don’t Think there Even Were Parties’

It is not just Boris Johnson who held this line on the parties, but senior members of his Cabinet as well.

Asked about the revelations, the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid told LBC that “I don’t even thing there were parties, that I’m aware of”.

He then went on to rubbish the story because it had been broken by the Daily Mirror.

“First of all, it’s the Daily Mirror,” he said. “You’ve got to take that into account.”

The stories about parties in Downing Street have since been confirmed by reporting from every major newspaper, ITV News and the BBC.


‘I Am Sickened Myself and Furious’

When footage of Johnson’s then spokeswoman Allegra Stratton, laughing and joking about Downing Street parties in a mock press conference was leaked to ITV News, the Prime Minister’s flat denials no longer became tenable.

He then switched to a new approach, telling the House of Commons that he was “sickened” by the footage and the “impression” that it gave.

“I apologise for the impression that has been given that staff in Downing Street take this less than seriously,” the Prime Minister said. “I am sickened myself and furious about that.”

We now know that far from being sickened by events in Number 10, he was personally involved in them.


‘I Have Been Repeatedly Assured that the Rules Were Not Broken’

Johnson went on to tell Starmer that “I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken” inside Downing Street.

It is not clear who assured Johnson of this, but given we now know that the Prime Minister personally attended at least one of the parties in which rules were broken, it is clear that this claim was also a lie.


‘I Certainly Broke No Rules’

When even this line of defence became untenable, the Prime Minister switched to a new approach, suggesting that while other people may have broken COVID rules inside Downing Street, he was personally free of all blame.

“I can tell you once again that I certainly broke no rules,” Johnson told ITV News on 13 December.

We now know that, not only did Johnson and his wife attend the “bring your own booze” party at Downing Street on 20 May 2020, but that the invite to the party came from the Prime Minister’s own Principal Private Secretary.


‘This was a Business Meeting’

The footage of Stratton rehearsing responses to questions about Downing Street parties included the practiced response that the party was a “business meeting”.

However, despite the nation having seen Johnson’s spokeswoman laughing while delivering this line, it continued to be used by the Government in response to the stories.

Asked about reports that Johnson attended a ‘pizza party’ with the former Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock during lockdown, Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden told LBC in December that this was a business meeting… at the time, you were perfectly entitled to meet with people in the context of essential business and I think you would agree the Prime Minister meeting with the Health Secretary in the middle of a COVID pandemic would amount to essential business”.

The “bring your own booze” leaked email has finally removed this as a possible defence for the Government.

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