The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Boris Johnson’s staff invited to ‘bring your own booze’ party during lockdown.

British prime minister Boris Johnson’s staff were invited to a “bring your own booze” party in the garden of his Downing Street residence during the first nationwide coronavirus lockdown in 2020, according to a leaked email seen by broadcaster ITV.

Mr Johnson, who won a landslide victory in a 2019 election, has faced a barrage of criticism over allegations that there were parties in breach of Covid-19 rules in government offices, including his own.

Around 40 staff gathered in the garden for the drinks party, including Johnson and his wife Carrie, ITV said, even though at the time social mixing between households was limited to two people outdoors.

An email was sent by the prime minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds to over 100 employees in Downing Street on May 20th, 2020, ITV said. The leaked email asked them to bring alcohol to the party and to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

“After what has been an incredibly busy period 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!”

Mr Johnson’ office declined to comment.

At the time, schools were shut to most pupils, and pubs and restaurants were closed, with strict controls on social mixing. Two people from different households were allowed to meet outdoors but only if they maintained a distance of 2 metres.

‘Outrageous’

Mr Johnson will be under pressure to explain his own role in the gathering. His premiership has been badly tarnished by controversies in recent months, leading to warnings from some of his lawmakers that he could face a leadership challenge.

The opposition Labour Party accused Mr Johnson of having “no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us”. The Scottish National Party called the email “utterly outrageous”.

A senior government official, Sue Gray, is investigating allegations that at least five parties were held in government departments last year during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings claimed last week that a drinks party had been held in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 despite warnings by him that it was against the rules.

When the prime minister was asked earlier on Monday if he and Carrie Johnson had attended the event, he declined to answer, saying: “All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.”

The allegations of officials holding events in breach of the government’s own lockdown rules, including a Christmas party, have dismayed voters who were told by the government to carefully stick to social distancing rules.

Mr Johnson (57) has faced criticism in recent months over his handling of a sleaze scandal, the awarding of lucrative Covid contracts, the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat and a claim he intervened to ensure pets were evacuated from Kabul during the chaotic Western withdrawal in August.

Mr Johnson’s Conservatives have lost their lead in opinion polls over the Labour Party and last month suffered an election defeat in a historic stronghold, stepping up pressure from his own lawmakers to reform his team of advisers.

Britain’s official death toll from the pandemic rose above 150,000 on Saturday, the second highest in absolute terms in Europe, behind only Russia’s. – Reuters

LIVE: NBC News NOW - Jan. 26

LIVE: NBC News NOW - Jan. 26

NBC News NOW is live, reporting breaking news and developing stories in real time. We are on the scene, covering the most important stories of the day and taking deep dives on issues you care about. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video:...

Press Preview: Thursday’s front pages

Press Preview: Thursday’s front pages

We take a look at what's making the headlines with the Daily Mail's consultant editor, Andrew Pierce, and the Daily Mirror's associate editor, Kevin Maguire. SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Like us on Facebo...

Federal Reserve Chairman Talks Labor Market Progress Ahead Of Interest Rate Hike.

Federal Reserve Chairman Talks Labor Market Progress Ahead Of Interest Rate Hike.

During a press conference Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spoke about strong labor markets and the economy. This comes as the Federal Reserve signaled it will hike interest rates soon. CNBC’s Morgan Brennan explains how a future interest ra...

CBS News Exclusive: Whistleblower complaint urges expanding COVID-19 vaccinations in ICE faciliti….

CBS News Exclusive: Whistleblower complaint urges expanding COVID-19 vaccinations in ICE faciliti….

Two medical advisers for the Department of Homeland Security are urging the U.S. government to expand its COVID-19 vaccination and mitigation efforts in immigration detention centers across the country. The call to action was disclosed in a whistl...

Beating Retreat Ceremony Marks End of India’s Republic Day Celebrations.

Beating Retreat Ceremony Marks End of India’s Republic Day Celebrations.

India's Republic Day celebrations ended Wednesday with the flag-lowering ceremony at Attari-Wagah international border in northern Punjab state. The ceremony, known as Beating the Retreat, includes cultural performances and the ceremonial closing ...

The Fed is getting ready to raise interest rates

The Fed is getting ready to raise interest rates

CNN's Matt Egan breaks down why future interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve signals that the US central bank is stepping up its fight against inflation. #CNN #News