ABoris Johnson apologized again for a party at his official residence on Friday – this time with the Queen. Although a government spokesman did not say who issued the apology and in what form, it is believed the Prime Minister intervened personally. It had previously been reported that his former communications chief, James Slack, hosted a farewell party in his office on April 16 last year – the day before Prince Philip’s funeral. Slack also apologized on Friday “unreservedly for the upset and pain this has caused.”
The party, which would have taken place without Johnson, would have lasted until morning with music and dancing. An employee apparently went to get alcohol from a supermarket with a suitcase. The party – along with another celebration at another office – is now also part of the investigation, which is being led by Officer Sue Gray.
At the time of the holiday, the country was in national mourning and confinement rules were strict. The Queen sat alone in the chapel pew at Windsor Castle the next morning – her children and grandchildren were seated at a safe distance – and said goodbye to her husband. The image of lonely mourners had often been recalled in recent weeks and put forward as a counterexample to the behavior of Johnson and his staff.
Wine, cheese and “good weather”
The party spans the series of booze-fueled rallies in the government district for nearly twelve months. In political London, we now speak of a “cultural problem”. The first known encounter of this kind was documented by a photo. It shows Johnson and his wife sitting with staff in the Downing Street garden. Wines and cheeses are on the tables. Johnson said of that May 15, 2020 meeting, “These people were at work and they were talking about work.”
At that time, at the end of the first confinement, it was forbidden to meet more than one person from another household. On May 20, about 30 employees accepted an invitation sent by Johnson’s personal assistant to more than 100 colleagues. You should take advantage of the “good weather” and bring your own alcohol. Johnson said he was there for 25 minutes and felt like he was attending a “business meeting”. Nevertheless, he apologized on Wednesday for “not having sent the employees home”.
After easing over the summer, the measures were tightened again in the fall of 2020. On November 13, associates and friends reportedly met the Prime Minister’s wife at the Johnsons’ private home; this is denied. Two weeks later, employees were having a drink in a colleague’s office and Johnson reportedly gave a speech. An Advent party was held at the Ministry of Education on December 10 and a celebration at Conservative headquarters on December 14. A photo was taken on Dec. 15 showing Johnson between two employees as they conduct an online Christmas quiz.
Three days later, the party that sparked the investigation took place in Downing Street. After reports of the party were initially denied, a video circulated showing staff members joking about the ‘wine and cheese’ party four days later. Johnson then said he was “angry” and appeared to know nothing about the party.