Leeds MP calls for 'liar' Boris Johnson to resign after Downing Street party revelation

A Leeds MP has called for the Prime Minister to resign after details of another Downing Street party during lockdown came to light.

By Rebecca Marano
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 8:03 pm

Labour’s Richard Burgon (Leeds East) called Boris Johnson a "liar" amid claims that a senior aide to the Prime Minister organised a “bring your own booze” party in the garden behind No 10 during England’s first lockdown in May 2020.

Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, sent an email to more than 100 Downing Street employees inviting them to “make the most of the lovely weather” in the garden on May 20.

The leaked email, which came to light on Monday, said: “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.

The Prime Minister has refused to say whether he attended the gathering along with his now wife Carrie. Pictured leading a press briefing regarding the Omicron variant in January 2022. PA.

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

Multiple reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the event with his wife, however, Mr Johnson refused to say whether he was at the event, when questioned by reporters on Monday.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said he would not comment on the parties saga while Sue Gray’s investigation into the parties was ongoing.

England was under tough coronavirus restrictions which banned groups from meeting socially outdoors at the time the party email was sent.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, January 11, Mr Burgon said: "The unavoidable truth is that the public believe the Prime Minister is a liar who treats them with contempt, there’s a crisis of public confidence.

“Isn’t the only way to restore public confidence for the Prime Minister for once to act in the public interest and resign now?”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis, who was speaking on behalf of the Government after deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was granted an urgent question in the Commons, responded: “I don’t think the public believe what (he) believes.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Burgon took to Twitter to criticise the Prime Minister. He wrote: "So now we know. While a Minister was in the Covid press briefing telling people to stick to the rules and to meetings of just 2 people, Boris Johnson's Private Secretary was emailing Downing Street staff inviting them to group drinks.

"One rule for them. Another for everyone else."

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Other Labour MPs across Leeds, as well as West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, also spoke out about the alleged party.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said: "I don't use this word lightly, but the Prime Minister is a liar and that is serious", while Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton said: "He’s laughing in our faces."

Mayor Tracy Brabin called the scenario "disrespectful".

She said: "It’s worth knowing what the rules were for people like us the day Govt had a massive garden party.

"The disrespect is off the scale. Imagine how hard this must be to read if you’d not been with a loved one at the end of their life, doing the right thing, while PM lived it up!"

Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, is a trainee GP in Leeds and a deputy leader of the Women’s Equality Party.

She described how at the time of the alleged party, she was treating patients who went on to die alone due to restrictions.

The doctor and campaigner said: "I was watching people die without their loved ones there, and then going home alone and weeping on FaceTime for my family. I’d have loved a few drinks in a garden with my friends."

The revelation comes after news broke in December about an earlier garden party held on May 15 of that year.

A photograph leaked to The Guardian showed Mr and Mrs Johnson, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Reynolds, pictured sitting around a table in the No 10 garden, with wine and cheese in front of them.

Some 15 other people were also in the photograph, but the Prime Minister has insisted this was a work meeting, saying: “Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.”

Other gatherings held across the Government while coronavirus restrictions were in place include; a leaving party and flat party on November 13, treasury drinks on November 25, a second staff leaving do on November 27, and Department for Education party on December 14, another party held on December 14, a Downing Street quiz on December 15, Department for Transport party December 16, Cabinet Office Christmas party on December 17 and a Christmas party at Downing Street on December 18.

Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton quit after being filmed joking about the December 18 party with fellow aides at a mock press conference.

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