The Chancellor has come under scrutiny after details have emerged of his an office drinks party held by his department during lockdown last year.
Around two dozen civil servants attended the Treasury party, held in celebration of Rishi Sunak’s spending review, according to The Times, which first reported the news.
The event took place on November 25 last year when lockdown restrictions meant non-essential stores, restaurants and bars were shut while people were instructed to stay at home except for food and exercise.
Although Sunak did not attend the party and is understood not to have known about the party at the time, the news puts him under the spotlight as public outrage over politicians breaking rules, rages on amid the latest round of Covid-19 restrictions announced by Boris Johnson earlier this week.
Johnson announced restrictions just hours after apologising for a video showing his staff laughing about a Christmas party in Downing Street last year – when most had called off their festive celebrations and could not leave the capital to visit friends and family elsewhere in the country.
Although Downing Street has denied any party took place, the latest news about the Treasury’s drinks party adds fuel to the flames, and rumours of several other parties between November and December 2020.
Government sources told The Times that Treasury officials working on the spending review announcement stayed behind for a drinks party afterwards. Wine and beer had been brought into the department but, the source claimed, the gathering was not planned.
Staff had “been working really hard,” the sources said.
“They had to be in the office anyway that day. It wasn’t a formal party but perhaps in hindsight it wasn’t the most sensible thing to do.”