Boris Johnson faces accusations that he was partying during lockdowns

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a wave of public and political outrage on Tuesday over allegations that he and his staff violated the rules of corona locking by holding a garden party in 2020, while the British were by law barred from interfering outside the home.

Opposition politicians called for a police inquiry after the TV station ITV published a leaked e-mail invitation to “socially distant drinks” in the garden at the Prime Minister’s office and residence in Downing Street in May 2020. The e-mail from the Prime Minister’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds , was sent to dozens of people and encouraged participants to “bring your own booze.”

The event was scheduled for May 20, 2020 – the same day the government at a televised news conference reminded people that they could only meet with one person outside their household. London’s Metropolitan Police force also released reminders of the rules that day.

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The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson will take a break during a coronavirus media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Tuesday 4 January 2022.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson will take a break during a coronavirus media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Tuesday 4 January 2022.
(Jack Hill, Pool Photo via AP, File)

Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Tuesday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.

The opposition Labor Party demanded that Johnson answer questions about the allegations in parliament – but the government sent a younger minister, Michael Ellis, to meet lawmakers instead. Ellis apologized “for the disruption these allegations have caused,” but said he could not comment further because an investigation was underway.

Labor deputy Angela Rayner said Johnson’s “absence says a lot.”

“He can run, but he can not hide,” she said.

During the UK’s first lockdown, which began in March 2020 and lasted for more than two months, assemblies were banned with a few exceptions, including work and funerals. Millions of people were cut off from friends and family, and even barred from visiting dying relatives in hospitals.

On the day of the garden party, 268 people died of coronavirus in the UK, according to official figures, bringing the total death toll to more than 36,000. The total number is now over 150,000, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.

Lyndsay Jackson, whose mother died of COVID-19 in May 2020, said the government showed “contempt for ordinary people and for the difficulties we all face.”

“I was not able to be with her when she died, I was not able to hold her hand … I could not even hug my brother after the funeral,” said Jackson, a member of the group COVID- 19 Bereaved Families for Justice. She told Sky News that Johnson was “under contempt.”

Johnson’s Conservative government has repeatedly been accused of overriding the rules it imposed on others during the pandemic, which led to the most severe restrictions on Britain’s individual freedoms since World War II.

The latest allegations will be investigated by senior official Sue Gray, who was appointed by the government to investigate previous allegations that staff at Johnson’s office had violated coronavirus rules with Christmas parties violating lockdown in 2020.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson is gesturing during a coronavirus media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Tuesday 4 January 2022.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson is gesturing during a coronavirus media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Tuesday 4 January 2022.
(Jack Hill, Pool Photo via AP, File)

Johnson has insisted he personally did not break any rules, but British media reported on Tuesday that the Prime Minister and his wife, Carrie Johnson, attended the garden rally in May 2020.

Health Minister Edward Argar said he understood why people would be “run and angry”, but said he would not “prejudge” the outcome of Gray’s investigation.

But Labor lawmaker Ed Miliband said the allegations were “incredibly judgmental” and said Johnson must explain whether he attended the party.

“How can he lead the country through these difficult times, get people to follow the public health councils if he has so blatantly broken the rules?” said Miliband on BBC radio.

Worrying about Johnson, it was not just opposition politicians who expressed anger. Recent allegations added fuel to growing concern among ruling Conservatives about the prime minister’s leadership.

The party right in the middle elected Johnson as leader in 2019 for his optimistic way of being and popular, an election that seemed to be confirmed when he led the Tories to a major election victory in December 2019.

But the pandemic has shaken his authority. Johnson’s support is eroded by dissatisfaction with social restrictions – which some conservatives see as draconian – and unrest over his judgment following a series of allegations of economic and ethical dishonesty.

A police officer knocks on the door of 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, January 11, 2022. Police are in contact with the Cabinet Office due to allegations that the Prime Minister's assistant organized a "bring your own splash" Downing Street party in May 2020 during the first virus lockdown.

A police officer knocks on the door of 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, January 11, 2022. Police are in contact with the Cabinet Office over allegations that the Prime Minister’s assistant organized a “bring your own booze” party in Downing Street in May 2020. during the first virus lockdown.
(AP Photo / Frank Augstein)

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Ruth Davidson, former leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, said many people “would never forgive” the “completely indefensible” garden party.

“It just makes a mockery of this idea that we made a national effort to keep each other safe,” she said.

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