Boris Johnson Had 'Birthday Party' At Downing Street During First Lockdown, Report Says

Labour condemns "chaotic, rudderless government" after ITV News report. “He’s got to go,” says Keir Starmer.
<strong>Boris Johnson on Facebook on June 19, 2020: "Thanks to the children and staff at Bovingdon Academy for the birthday wishes and cake!"</strong>
Boris Johnson on Facebook on June 19, 2020: "Thanks to the children and staff at Bovingdon Academy for the birthday wishes and cake!"

Boris Johnson is under fresh pressure to resign following reports he had a “surprise” birthday party at No 10 during the first lockdown in 2020.

ITV News claimed a birthday party inside Downing Street’s Cabinet Room was attended by up to 30 people on the afternoon of June 19. The event is said to have lasted between 20 and 30 minutes.

Johnson’s wife Carrie and designer Lulu Lytle – who was renovating his Downing Street apartment – led staff in a chorus of happy birthday, the broadcaster alleged.

ITV News said in its report that family friends were later hosted upstairs in the prime minister’s flat.

Labour leader Keir Starmer hit out at a “chaotic, rudderless government” and repeated his call for Johnson to resign. “He’s got to go,” Starmer said.

But Downing Street disputed the report – saying staff only “gathered briefly” in the Cabinet Room after a meeting.

A No 10 spokesperson said of the afternoon celebration: “A group of staff working in No 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the prime minister a happy birthday. He was there for less than ten minutes.”

Of the evening event claim, they said: “This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time, the prime minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.”

Starmer told broadcasters: “This is yet more evidence that we have got a prime minister who believes that the rules that he made don’t apply to him.

“And so we have got a prime minister and a government who spend their whole time mopping up sleaze and deceit.

“Meanwhile millions of people are struggling to pay their bills. We cannot afford to go on with this chaotic, rudderless government.

“The prime minister is a national distraction and he’s got to go.”

The PA news agency reported that Lytle briefly attended while undertaking work in Downing Street.

Soane Britain, the luxury designer co-founded by Lytle, said she was “present in Downing Street on June 19 working on the refurbishment”, which has been subject to multiple investigations into its funding.

“Lulu was not invited to any birthday celebrations for the prime minister as a guest,” the spokeswoman said.

“Lulu entered the Cabinet Room briefly as requested, while waiting to speak with the prime minister.”

It came as senior civil servant Sue Gray was working on her inquiry into a series of claims of rule-breaking parties in No 10. It is expected to be published this week.

ITV News said that picnic food from M&S was eaten during the afternoon gathering. Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s under-fire principal private secretary, was also said to have attended.

Social gatherings indoors were forbidden under lockdown laws at the time, with a relaxation of the regulations permitting gatherings of up to six people to take place outside.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries, a staunch ally of Johnson, questioned whether the gathering would have broken the rules in place at the time.

“So, when people in an office buy a cake in the middle of the afternoon for someone else they are working in the office with and stop for ten minutes to sing happy birthday and then go back to their desks, this is now called a party?” she tweeted.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted “he needs to go now”.

Lammy wrote: “No more excuses, no more delays, no more waiting for Sue Gray.

“For the sake of all the sacrifices the British people have made, for all the loved ones lost and mourned alone, he needs to go now.”

On the day of his birthday, Johnson visited Bovingdon Primary School in Bovingdon, Hemel Hempstead, where he joined a socially distanced lesson and could be seen talking to pupils from the front of the classroom.

He wrote on Facebook: “Thanks to the children and staff at Bovingdon Academy for the birthday wishes and cake!”

In March 2020, Johnson tweeted praise for a seven-year-old girl called Josephine who had postponed her birthday party until “we have sent coronavirus packing”.

He wrote: “Together we can beat this. In the meantime let’s all wish her happy birthday (twice) whilst washing our hands. #BeLikeJosephine #StayHomeSaveLives.”

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