Boris Johnson's Praise For A 7-Year-Old Who Cancelled Her Birthday Party Comes Back To Haunt Him

Josephine Booth wrote to the prime minister during lockdown: "I am staying at home because you asked us to."
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 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 fire for encouraging the public to follow the example of a seven-year-old who stayed at home on her birthday during the first lockdown – and later allegedly had his own rule-breaking bash when he turned 56.

On Monday, the prime minister was fighting off allegations from ITV News that a gathering to wish him a happy birthday was held at Downing Street on June 19 2020, when indoor social mixing was banned.

In the aftermath of the revelation, many pointed to a tweet from March 2020 when the PM replied to a letter from Josephine Booth, 7, who had cancelled her own birthday party.

Josephine Booth wrote to the prime minister: “I am staying at home because you asked us to.”

She added: “I don’t mind, because I want everybody to be OK.”

Her letter went viral after it was posted on Twitter by the cricket club of which her father, Andrew, is the captain.

The prime minister responded by sharing the tweet and writing: “Josephine sets a great example to us all by postponing her birthday party until we have sent coronavirus packing.

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

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign said: “Josephine protected the nation and cancelled her 7th birthday party because she wanted ‘everybody to be ok’. The prime minister did not. He had cake whilst dozens sang happy birthday to him at a party for his 56th birthday.”

The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said: “It is a pity Boris Johnson did not postpone his own birthday party. Prime Minister you have lost the right to govern. Show some dignity and respect by doing the right thing. Resign.”

Broadcaster Adil Ray said: “Can Josephine now lead the country?”

Dan Ashley tweeted: “We had a party in our house in 2020 for my daughter with about 30 teddies because the rules said no actual parties. It was a long afternoon #BeLikeJosephine #BorisJohnson #CarrieAntoinette #partygate.”

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!”

The latest “partygate” allegations prompted many on social media to share their own birthday experiences when ordered not to socialise.

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, tweeted two pictures of his “lockdown birthday” in 2020.

One picture shows a card which read “April 2020 – Definitely the most shit birthday you have ever had”.

“For my lockdown birthday in 2020 I had a wonderful day with my lovely boyfriend at home,” he tweeted.

“No parties. No rules broken. If I could do it, why couldn’t the Prime Minister?”

Downing Street said staff “gathered briefly” in the Cabinet Room after a meeting, in response to the report, which suggested up to 30 people attended what it described as a birthday party.

But the broadcaster suggested the prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, had organised the surprise get-together complete with a chorus of “happy birthday” on the afternoon.

ITV news also reported later that evening family friends were hosted upstairs to further celebrate the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday in his official residence, claim Downing Street said was “totally untrue”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the latest revelations were “yet more evidence that we have got a prime minister who believes that the rules that he made don’t apply to him”.

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 as Johnson faces calls to resign as prime minister, including from some of his own Conservative MPs.


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