Home » UK Covid Live: Boris Johnson Had Birthday Party At No 10 During 2020 Lockdown, Report Claims

UK Covid Live: Boris Johnson Had Birthday Party At No 10 During 2020 Lockdown, Report Claims

18:26

Boris Johnson had birthday bash during lockdown, reports suggest

Boris Johnson had a birthday party during the first lockdown in 2020, according to a report by ITV News, with social distancing rules clearly forbidding indoor social gatherings at the time.

The prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, allegedly helped organise a surprise party for Johnson – said to have been attended by up to 30 people, including the interior designer Lulu Lytle – on the afternoon of 19 June.

The event, involving picnic food from M&S, reportedly took place in the Cabinet Room at No 10 Downing Street, after the prime minister returned from an official visit to a school in Hertfordshire.

Downing St say the prime minister only attended for less than 10 minutes.

On the evening of the same day, family friends are understood to have been hosted upstairs in the prime minister’s residence in an apparent further breach of the rules. Number 10 have denied this, claiming the prime minister only hosted a small number of family members outside.

Updated

19:19

This from my colleague Jessica Elgot:

Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot)

Cabinet office source gets in touch to say that apparently the folder already existed – Gray was already aware of this gathering… https://t.co/IOGxjwXbZf

January 24, 2022

19:18

According to a spokesperson for Lulu Lytle, the interior designer who was hired to do up Boris and Carrie Johnson’s Downing Street flat, she was “present” in the cabinet room on 19 June when the birthday party allegedly took place, but was “waiting to speak with the prime minister”, not to celebrate.

Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman)

Spox for Lytle: “Lulu was present in Downing Street on 19 June working on the refurbishment. Lulu was not invited to any birthday celebrations for the prime minister as a guest. Lulu entered the cabinet room briefly as requested, while waiting to speak with the prime minister.”

January 24, 2022

19:14

Comment from Keir Starmer on the latest iteration of partygate:

Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer)

The Prime Minister is a national distraction.

Millions of people are struggling to pay the bills, but Boris Johnson and his government are spending the whole time mopping up their own rule-breaking, sleaze and deceit.

He’s got to go.

January 24, 2022

Here a slightly longer version on Sky:

Sky News (@SkyNews)

“The PM is a national distraction and he has got to go.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds to reports that Boris Johnson had a ‘surprise’ birthday party during the 2020 lockdown, according to ITV News

Full story: https://t.co/z3lOCXLQxm pic.twitter.com/zcItOmDsKJ

January 24, 2022

19:07

Here an update on the story from ITV’s Paul Brand, who broke it:

Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV)

As for family friends going up to the PM’s flat, No 10 deny this:

“This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.”

We have approached Lulu Lytle for comment.

January 24, 2022

Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV)

The week before the party, the PM told us all: “meeting inside other people’s homes – that remains against the law”.

The Queen had rearranged her birthday, as had millions more. For some, it would be their last.

January 24, 2022

Updated

19:05

And this from John Nicolson, the MP for Ochil & South Perthshire:

JOHN NICOLSON M.P. (@MrJohnNicolson)

In June of 2020 my Mum died shortly after her birthday which we ‘celebrated’ over FaceTime. I hadn’t been able to see her for many weeks. She was very lonely. But we agreed we should follow the rules. I can’t express how much I despise this cruel charlatan and his acolytes. https://t.co/sS2QdZdTRh

January 24, 2022

19:03

This from cabinet minister Nadine Dorries:

Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries)

So, when people in an office buy a cake in the middle of the afternoon for someone else they are working in the office with and stop for ten minutes to sing happy birthday and then go back to their desks, this is now called a party?

January 24, 2022

19:00

Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in reponse to reports that Boris Johnson held a birthday party for himself in June 2020:

This can’t go on any longer.

Party after party, lie after lie, this disgraced prime minister brings more pain every day to bereaved families who have already suffered too much.

It is clear now the Sue Gray inquiry is not fit for purpose. The Met must investigate this to deliver justice for millions who sacrificed so much during this pandemic.

Britain played by the rules which Boris Johnson wrote, but couldn’t be bothered to stick to himself. It is time he saved the country even more pain and resigned.

18:56

Some useful detail on whether such a party, if it did take place, would have been illegal, courtesy of barrister Adam Wagner:

Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1)

If the facts of this are accurate then I can’t see how it could have been lawful

19 June 2020 – indoor gatherings of 2 or more were banned unless it fell within a list of exceptions. Birthday parties (or any social gatherings) were not an https://t.co/6i7Xc9PB2U pic.twitter.com/o56QjqRlOJ

January 24, 2022

18:51

From shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth:

Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth)

And Tory MPs still refuse to put the national interest first & choose to stick with this disgraced birthday boy instead https://t.co/sKcxUnYbco

January 24, 2022

18:49

This from Kate Proctor, the political editor of PoliticsHome:

Kate Proctor (@Kate_M_Proctor)

For the love of god. I spoke to someone just this weekend who couldn’t invite his late wife’s own siblings to a small commemoration in their garden because of the rules of 6 outdoors. https://t.co/v9eu7HWpau

January 24, 2022

18:46

Here is a tweet Boris Johnson posted on 21 March 2020, in which he urges people to “be like Josephine”, a 7-year-old girl who wrote to the prime minister to let him know her birthday party might be cancelled so her family can follow the rules.

“Josephine sets a great example to us all”, Johnson tweeted.

Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson)

Josephine sets a great example to us all by postponing her birthday party until we have sent coronavirus packing.

Together we can beat this. In the meantime let’s all wish her happy birthday (twice) whilst washing our hands. #BeLikeJosephine #StayHomeSaveLives https://t.co/xmDOw60hhV pic.twitter.com/yl7uxe9lhh

March 21, 2020

18:37

Here some reactions from political journalists to reports of a prime ministerial lockdown birthday party.

From the FT’s Jim Pickard:

Jim Pickard (@PickardJE)

good luck spinning this one as a work event https://t.co/cXYzoDFVAB

January 24, 2022

Esther Webber from Politico Europe:

Esther Webber (@estwebber)

Sue Gray lights a cigarette, opens Word, new document https://t.co/qKI8DIWIWe

January 24, 2022

This from my colleague Sonia Sodha:

Sonia Sodha (@soniasodha)

Did he think his birthday party – complete with cake – was a work meeting too? https://t.co/otwSzwkGZa

January 24, 2022

This from the FT’s Henry Mance:

Henry Mance (@henrymance)

no one told me beforehand that it was my birthday

January 24, 2022

And this from Andrew Neil, the chairman of the Spectator Magazine Group:

Andrew Neil (@afneil)

Dearie, dearie, dearie me … https://t.co/6zbfKHg3hU

January 24, 2022

18:26

Boris Johnson had birthday bash during lockdown, reports suggest

Boris Johnson had a birthday party during the first lockdown in 2020, according to a report by ITV News, with social distancing rules clearly forbidding indoor social gatherings at the time.

The prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, allegedly helped organise a surprise party for Johnson – said to have been attended by up to 30 people, including the interior designer Lulu Lytle – on the afternoon of 19 June.

The event, involving picnic food from M&S, reportedly took place in the Cabinet Room at No 10 Downing Street, after the prime minister returned from an official visit to a school in Hertfordshire.

Downing St say the prime minister only attended for less than 10 minutes.

On the evening of the same day, family friends are understood to have been hosted upstairs in the prime minister’s residence in an apparent further breach of the rules. Number 10 have denied this, claiming the prime minister only hosted a small number of family members outside.

Updated

18:00

Early evening summary

  • Lord Agnew, the minister responsible for efficiency, has dramatically resigned his post publicly in parliament, saying he was unable to defend the way the government handled fraudulent Covid business loans.
  • Coronavirus testing for double-vaccinated travellers arriving in England will be scrapped from the end of next week, ministers have announced.
  • Boris Johnson has ordered a formal inquiry into allegations by the Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani that she was sacked as a minister after being told her “Muslimness” was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.
  • Dominic Cummings has submitted written evidence to the inquiry into lockdown breaches in Downing Street in 2020, telling Sue Gray he did not trust Boris Johnson not to leak his conversations with the inquiry chief.
  • David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has called for the planned tax rise hitting national insurance contributions to be scrapped as a cost-of-living crisis looms, adding further pressure on the government.
  • A Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “painful, violent and bloody business”, Boris Johnson has warned as he said a “lightning war” was possible but not inevitable.

18:00

The Scottish government has announced that it is changing its Covid travel rules in line with the changes announced for England by Grant Shapps. “These measures will significantly open up international travel and were agreed on a UK wide basis,” Michael Matheson, the Scottish government’s net zero, energy and transport secretary said in a statement.

17:50

Boris Johnson is under pressure to reverse the national insurance increase from the left (the Labour party) and from the right (numerous Conservative MPs), and today we’ve seen another example of a left/right alliance behind a low tax agenda (or Blairite/right alliance – admittedly, not quite the same thing). Policy Exchange, a rightwing thinktank which has close links to ministers, has announced that Ruth Kelly, a cabinet minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has joined the new economic and social unit it is setting up. And, in a statement marking her arrival, Kelly has called for the devolution of some taxes, like business rates. She said:

As a former Labour parliamentary candidate for Bolton West, a Tory marginal situated among the ‘Red Wall’ seats, I cannot imagine a situation in which its constituents or any of those in the neighbouring seats would vote at the next election for a larger state and even higher taxes.

They didn’t want a Corbyn and McDonnell spending plan now – and they don’t want it now. Yet the government is presiding over tax burden which is predicted in a few years to reach its highest level since 1949. Vast sums are being spent by the state – but we must do a better job of making sure they are evaluated and properly accounted for.

We should be looking at radical reform to turn the tanker around. Why not have the full devolution of some taxes? We already have mayors firing on all cylinders, why not give them some real fire power.

Updated

17:39

This is from Alison Thewliss, the SNP’s Treasury spokesperson, on Lord Agnew’s resignation. (See 4.37pm.)

It is unacceptable that millions of people were excluded from Treasury support through this pandemic while the UK government is prepared to write off the billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money stolen by crooks and fraudsters.

The dire reality is that the Tory government has cut crucial universal credit for struggling households and still refuses to deliver meaningful support to tackle the cost of living crisis. This money could have gone a long way to supporting people who need it the most.

It speaks volumes of the Tory government’s priorities that while ordinary people are being pushed into hardship and poverty, it lets people who have stolen public funds off the hook.

17:21

This is from Tim Durrant from the Institute of Government. Resignations outside a reshuffle are a reasonably good indicator for the dysfunctionality of a government, and Lord Agnew’s resignation means Boris Johnson is now pulling ahead of Gordon Brown on this measure (ie, doing worse) at this stage of his premiership.

But Johnson is still a long way off matching Theresa May’s performance in this department.

Tim Durrant (@timd_IFG)

🚨 Lord Agnew’s resignation added to the ministerial resignations chart: Johnson pulls decisively clear of Brown, with a few months to go until he overtakes him in No10

May still the undisputed leader, of course 🚨 pic.twitter.com/WatTwZINsr

January 24, 2022