Sir Keir Stamer has launched fresh attacks on Boris Johnson over his involvement in lockdown-breaking Downing Street parties, telling the Prime Minister to “stop lying to the British public”.
The Labour leader said that Johnson’s “deflections and distractions are absurd” in the wake of fresh evidence he knew about illegal mass events in Downing Street during 2020.
Labour has secured an Urgent Question on the saga in today’s parliament, with deputy leader Angela Rayner expected to grill ministers on the Downing Street party of 20 May, 2020.
A leaked email revealed yesterday that an invitation was sent by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to more than 100 staff in Number 10, telling them to “bring your own booze!” to a party on 20 May.
ITV reports that around 40 staff attended the event in the Downing Street garden, including Boris and Carrie Johnson.
There is an ongoing investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray into the many allegations of lockdown breaking parties in Downing Street in 2020.
The email would appear to be the smoking gun that proves the Prime Minister knew about at least one of the events, despite a series of previous denials.
Despite this, Number 10 today said that Reynolds would “continue in his role” and that he has the full confidence of the Prime Minister.
Starmer tweeted: “Boris Johnson, your deflections and distractions are absurd. Not only did you know about the parties in Downing Street, you attended them. Stop lying to the British public. It’s time to finally come clean.”
Downing Street was refusing to comment on the story last night and said it would wait until the findings of Gray’s probe to make a statement.
Health minister Ed Argar today told the BBC: “I can entirely understand the anger, the sadness and the upset that many will feel about these allegations.
“We’ve lost sadly 150,230 of our fellow citizens during this pandemic to the disease and of course everyone endured some very tough restrictions impacting on family life and mental health so I can entirely understand the anger. That’s why I think it’s absolutely right that the Prime Minister moved swiftly to commission that independent inquiry by Sue Gray.”
It comes after a photo of Johnson’s staff drinking wine and chatting in the Downing Street garden on 15 May 2020 emerged last month.
Downing Street said at the time that the event, which was attended by the Prime Minister, was a work meeting that only happened to involve wine and cheese.
There appears to be far less wriggle room with the 20 May revelation when Reynolds’ email is taken into account.
Reynolds, a civil servant who runs Johnson’s private office, writes in the email: “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.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”