Hangover for Johnson over BYOB Downing Street party - RTHK
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Hangover for Johnson over BYOB Downing Street party

2022-01-11 HKT 21:10
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  • UK prime minister Boris Johnson told parliament last month that all Covid guidance had been followed. Photo: AFP
    UK prime minister Boris Johnson told parliament last month that all Covid guidance had been followed. Photo: AFP
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under fire on Tuesday after it emerged his private secretary had invited over 100 people to a "bring your own booze" party in the garden of Downing Street during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Johnson, who won a landslide victory in a 2019 election, has faced intense scrutiny over the past month after a video emerged showing his staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown.

Revelations about a series of parties in Downing Street have garnered popular derision and drawn criticism from opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who said Johnson lacked the moral authority to lead the country.

Johnson and his partner Carrie were among those who gathered with about 40 staff in the garden of Downing Street on May 20, 2020, after the PM's Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds sent an invite by email, ITV reported.

"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 No10 garden this evening," Reynolds said in the email.

"Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!"

At the time of the gathering, schools were shut to most pupils, and pubs and restaurants were closed, with strict controls on social mixing. People were prevented from bidding farewell in person to dying relatives.

Police prosecuted people for having parties, erected random checkpoints in some areas and in Derbyshire, central England, used drones to monitor beauty spots.

The United Kingdom's death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic stands at 150,154, the world's seventh worst official Covid toll after the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru.

Johnson's spokesman on Tuesday declined to comment on the reports of the party.

Paymaster General Michael Ellis, answering an urgent question to the prime minister in parliament about the party, said he apologised again unreservedly for the upset that the allegations had caused.

A senior government official, Sue Gray, is currently investigating the allegations of at least five parties held in government departments last year during lockdown restrictions. (Reuters)