Boris Johnson is facing claims that regular drinking sessions were held in Downing Street during the COVID pandemic with reports that staff were holding “Friday at wine time.”
In the new allegations in the “partygate” scandal that engulfed the prime minister, it is alleged that the weekly event was scheduled on the electronic calendars of some 50 employees at number 10 between 4pm and 7pm every Friday.
The number 10 did not deny the claims, but did point to the ongoing Whitehall investigation into multiple allegations of COVID violations in Downing Street and other government buildings during the pandemic.
According to the Daily Mirror, weekly drinks are a long-standing Downing Street tradition that has continued even after the introduction of COVID restrictions.
The newspaper ran a photograph of what it claimed was a £ 142 drinks fridge delivered through the back entrance on Downing Street on 11 December 2020.
At the time, London was subject to “Level 2” restrictions, which prevented people from mixing with other families indoors.
A maximum of six people from different families could mingle outdoors, and those who could work from home were invited to do so.
The Daily Mirror report said Friday meetings occasionally ran until midnight, with up to two dozen attendants drinking wine and beer and playing games like Pictionary.
The newspaper said the prime minister attended a handful of events at times when indoor socializing was prohibited.
He is also said to have encouraged the staff to “let off steam”.
The prime minister’s alleged presence included an event on November 13, 2020, when England was in a second national bloc.
It was also the same day that Mr. Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings left Downing Street for the last time after a bitter internal dispute.
A source told the newspaper of the events: “Boris would stop for a chat while they drank.
“He was walking up to his apartment and the door was usually open. He knew it and encouraged him.”
The prime minister is already shocked by the multiple allegations of parties to be held in Downing Street during times of tight COVID restrictions.
on Fridays, Number 10 apologized to the queen over two parties held in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year, a service for which Her Majesty was forced to sit alone under COVID rules.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is currently investigating various reports of lockdown events in Downing Street and other government buildings.
He is not expected to publish his findings next week at the earliest.
In response to the Daily Mirror allegations of “Friday of wine time”, a spokesperson for the number 10 said: “An investigation is underway to establish the facts about the nature of the meetings, including participation, setting and the purpose with reference to joining the guide at that time.
“The results will be made public in due course.”
Mr. Johnson hasn’t spoken in public since Wednesday when he did admitted to attend a “bring your own alcohol” event. in Downing Street Garden during the first national lockdown in May 2020.
The prime minister canceled a visit to Lancashire on Thursday, with the number 10 explaining that one of Mr. Johnson’s family members had tested positive for COVID.