Sky News: Boris Johnson at 'weakest point' of premiership
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The Prime Minister was reportedly present for 15 minutes at the gathering following a Covid press conference on May 15, 2020. Roughly 20 staff drank wine and spirits and ate pizza following the press conference at which then Health Secretary Matt Hancock had told the British public to stay at home “as much as is possible”.
In a picture published by The Guardian, Mr Johnson can be seen sitting around a garden table with his then-fiancee Carrie, and two members of staff.
On the table are bottles of wine and a cheeseboard.
Four other members of staff are sat around a second table a distance away.
Nine people are then gathered on the grass, with another two sat on the floor to the right.
Downing Street has insisted the gathering was within the rules, and a spokesman previously said: “On May 15, 2020 the Prime Minister held a series of meetings throughout the afternoon, including briefly with the then health and care secretary and his team in the garden following a press conference.
“The Prime Minister went to his residence shortly after 7pm.
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“A small number of staff required to be in work remained in the Downing Street garden for part of the afternoon and evening.”
On Sunday, a spokesman said: “As we said last week, work meetings often take place in the Downing Street garden in the summer months. On this occasion there were staff meetings after a No 10 press conference.
“Downing Street is the Prime Minister’s home as well as his workplace. The Prime Minister’s wife lives in No 10 and therefore also legitimately uses the garden.”
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After the photographs emerged, Labour’s Ms Rayner tweeted: “I guess staff meetings look a bit different if you went to Eton?
“Enough is enough. Tell us the truth about what was going on in Downing Street from the very beginning immediately Boris Johnson.”
The Prime Minister is alleged to have told one aide that they deserved a drink for “beating back” coronavirus.
Some aides reportedly carried on drinking into the evening, although there was no suggestion Mr Johnson or Mr Hancock had any alcohol or stayed late.
The alleged gathering is one of a number which have been reported across Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray has been tasked with investigating the reports after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case was removed from the probe after it was revealed he had known about a quiz held in his department.
The latest revelations come at a time when experts are advocating a lockdown to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
Asked whether he could rule out new restrictions before Christmas, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “We are assessing the situation, it is very fast moving.
“There are no guarantees in this pandemic I don’t think. At this point, we just have to keep everything under review.”
Mr Javid said the Government was watching the data on an “almost hourly basis” and listening to its scientific advisers and would balance that against the broader impact of restrictions on things such as businesses and education.
Express.co.uk has contacted Number 10 for additional comment.
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