Boris Johnson faces a disaster over the latest revelations following weeks of experiences about alleged lockdown-flouting events at Downing Avenue and elsewhere in authorities – and he’s now on the centre of them with experiences that he and his spouse, Carrie, attended one such occasion on 20 Could 2020. Listed below are among the questions going through the prime minister.
Did he know the occasion was being organised?
An email leaked to ITV’s Paul Brand that has sparked the most recent questions does make this appear possible. From Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s principal personal secretary, it advised No 10 employees: “We thought it could be good to take advantage of the stunning climate and have some socially distanced drinks within the No 10 backyard this night.”
Using “we” is notable – Reynolds is a civil servant fairly than a political appointee, and it could appear curious if he made the association with out not less than Johnson’s tacit acceptance – not least as a result of it was being held in an area which is, amongst different makes use of, Boris and Carrie Johnson’s private backyard.
Who else was invited?
Stories say Reynolds’ e-mail went out to about 100 Downing Avenue employees, with between 30 and 40 folks attending in the long run. Individuals there told the BBC that the occasion concerned an extended desk being positioned within the backyard, holding drinks and snacks, together with crisps and sausage rolls. This seems, with none ambiguity, to be a social occasion – Johnson might want to say how this might occur.
Did Johnson and his spouse attend?
Eyewitnesses have advised the BBC and others that each the Johnsons have been there. The PM shall be requested repeatedly about this, and the way lengthy they stayed. One of many curiosities of the case is that, as a result of the backyard varieties a part of their official residence, the couple wouldn’t have damaged any Covid guidelines by having a social drink there – have been it not for the 30 or so others additionally attending.
Did another ministers attend?
The invitation seems to have been despatched solely to No 10 employees. Nevertheless, Downing Avenue has beforehand confirmed that on the occasion that includes wine and cheese five days earlier, Matt Hancock, then-health secretary, was current. No 10 insists that the gathering was a work-based assembly following a press convention led by Hancock.
One minister notably within the body by way of figuring out concerning the 20 Could occasion may very well be Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, given his official residence can also be inside Downing Avenue. If he was at house that night, he could be anticipated to have not less than observed a number of dozen folks consuming within the backyard.
What’s Johnson’s defence?
To this point, we don’t know. Johnson has not been sighted because the new revelations emerged, and the one line from ministers and the PM’s official spokesperson is that individuals ought to watch for the investigation into the broader challenge of events being led by a senior civil servant, Sue Gray.
There may be, in reality, little in the best way of a reputable defence if the narrative implied by the e-mail is right. On the time of the alleged occasion there have been no particular laws towards distanced, outside work conferences, therefore Downing Avenue’s argument that the 15 Could occasion, later proven in a photograph despatched to the Guardian, was colleagues gathering for skilled causes. Reynolds’ e-mail would appear to demolish such a defence this time.
May Johnson have misled parliament?
Labour definitely believes so. Following the information concerning the Reynolds e-mail, the occasion despatched out an inventory of occasions when Johnson told MPs in the Commons, amid earlier allegations, that he had been assured that each one Covid guidelines have been adopted. If it was identified that Johnson attended the 20 Could occasion, and that it was as described within the e-mail, then the prime minister would seem to have been intentionally untruthful.