Dozens of protesters wearing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson masks and wigs danced outside 10 Downing Street on Friday. It comes as more details about parties held at Downing Street during nationwide lockdowns were revealed by British media.
Revelations of numerous parties at Downing Street — including one on the night before Prince Philip's funeral last April — have caused a major political scandal for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and prompted questions about how long he can survive as leader of the governing Conservative party.
Staff at 10 Downing Street held gatherings dubbed "wine-time Fridays" during England's coronavirus lockdowns. A former No 10 source, who worked at the UK Prime Minister's official residence all through 2020, confirmed to CNN that such gatherings regularly took place. The source said other people referred to them as "wine-time Fridays".
"There is an ongoing investigation to establish the facts around the nature of gatherings, including attendance, setting…… The findings will be made public in due course," a Downing Street spokesperson said last Friday.
According to the Daily Mirror, the weekly drinks are a long-standing Downing Street tradition that continued even after COVID restrictions were introduced. The newspaper published a photograph of what it reported was a £142 drinks fridge being delivered through Downing Street's back entrance on 11 December, 2020. At the time, London was under "Tier 2" restrictions, which prevented people from mixing with other households indoors.
The Daily Mirror report said the Friday gatherings occasionally went on as late as midnight, with up to two dozen aides drinking wine and beer and playing games. The newspaper claimed the prime minister attended a handful of the events at points when indoor socialising was banned.
In fresh claims that will further fuel the "partygate" crisis threatening the prime minister's political future, it is alleged that Downing Street staff drank alcohol into the early hours at two leaving events in April last year.
The events on 16 April 2021 — which according to the original report in The Telegraph included people drinking and dancing to music and one attendee being sent shopping with a suitcase to fill with bottles of wine — occurred the night before the Queen was forced to sit by herself at her husband's funeral at St George's Chapel in Windsor.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised for attending a party during the first coronavirus lockdown. He told MPs the event in the Downing Street garden was "technically within the rules" but he should have realised how it would look to the public.
The PM's spokesman said it was "deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning". Boris Johnson was not at either party — but he faces questions over alleged Covid rule-breaking at No 10. Asked to respond to the announcement of Downing Street's apology, Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP are all calling for Mr Johnson to resign after he admitted attending a drinks party in the Downing Street garden during lockdown on 20 May 2020.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey repeated his call for Boris Johnson to resign in the wake of the latest allegations.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said she had "no words for the culture and behaviours at Number 10", adding: "The buck stops with the PM."