Tory minister admits latest partygate allegations make the public ‘angry and upset’

Boris Johnson shuffling rightwards
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The daughter of a key worker who died after contracting coronavirus (Covid-19) has said it makes her “feel sick” to think Boris Johnson was “partying” on the day her father’s death certificate was signed. At the same time, a minister has accepted that the public is “angry and upset” about what his boss allegedly did. It comes as a leaked email revealed what seems to be yet another restriction-breaking Downing Street party – an email sent to 100 employees.

Police are in contact with the Cabinet Office over the claims.

Boris Johnson is ‘sickening’

Hannah Brady, a spokeswoman for the Covid-10 Bereaved Families for Justice Group, said her father Shaun died four days before an email was sent out by the prime minister’s private secretary appearing to organise drinks in the garden of Number 10. Her father worked at the Kraft Heinz factory in Wigan.

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Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s principal private secretary, sent an email to more than 100 Downing Street employees in May 2020 saying they should “make the most of the lovely weather”. This was despite England being under tough coronavirus restrictions.

ITV reported the party took place on 20 May 2020 and alleged it was attended by Johnson and his wife Carrie. Brady said her father was 55 and fit and healthy when he contracted coronavirus, and she and her family had done “everything they could” to keep him safe during lockdown. She said:

Those days will stay with me for the rest of my life, just like the families of the 353 people that died that day, my family couldn’t even get a hug from our friends,” she said.

To think that whilst it was happening Boris Johnson was making the ‘most of the weather’ and throwing a party for 100 people is truly beyond belief.

At the time, everyone would have known that going to a party was wrong, so how can those running the country have thought it was OK? Could there be a more disgraceful example of ‘one rule for them, and another rule for the rest of us’?

In September last year, Brady was among five families from the campaign who met Johnson. She added:

To make matters worse, in September I sat in that same garden, looked the Prime Minister in the eyes and told him how my dad had died. He told me he had ‘done everything he could’ to protect my dad.

Knowing that he had partied in that same spot the very day that Dad’s death certificate was signed. It makes me feel sick to think about it.

Hannah Brady with photos of Shaun and Margaret Brady, who died with Covid-19
Hannah Brady with photos of Shaun and Margaret Brady, who died with Covid-19 (James Manning/PA)

Boris Johnson is ‘infuriating’

Health minister Edward Argar has told the BBC:

I can entirely understand why people who’ve lost loved ones, or people who’ve just had their lives hugely disrupted by these restrictions, are angry and upset by these allegations.

He refused to be drawn on details of the 20 May 2020 “socially distanced drinks”, insisting that it was a matter for the investigation into Whitehall parties being carried out by senior official Sue Gray. He said that “appropriate disciplinary action” should be taken if rules were broken – something that could prove incredibly awkward for Johnson if he is found to have attended, as has been claimed by sources including former aide Dominic Cummings.

Johnson refused to say whether he was at the event when questioned by reporters on 10 January. At the time:

  • People in England were allowed to meet only one person from another household, providing they were at least two metres apart and outside.
  • People were not permitted to visit the homes of friends and family – unless it was for care and medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities were shared.
  • Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants remained closed.

Former Scottish Tory leader baroness Ruth Davidson has joined those expressing their horror at the ‘unthinking’ prime minister on social media:

Boris Johnson may find himself under further investigation

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said:

The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on May 20 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office.

A tweet from the time of the party read:

Human rights lawyer Adam Wagner, who interprets coronavirus regulations on Twitter for the public, said the alleged event looked “unlikely to be legal for attendees”.

The-then culture secretary Oliver Dowden used a Downing Street press conference that day to remind the public they could “meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place, provided that you stay two metres apart”.

Boris Johnson is a ‘flagrant breacher’

The latest row over Whitehall parties and Johnson’s alleged attendance was commented on by Labour, with shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband telling Sky News:

How can he lead the country through these difficult times, get people to follow public health advice, if he has so flagrantly breached the rules?

I mean, this is not some accidental thing. This is a party invite. I think it’s extraordinary that the civil servant in question was part of a culture that would be inviting people to this party.

The Liberal Democrats said if rules were found to be broken then “those responsible should face the full force of the law”.

The criticism of Johnson and his alleged breaches is only growing:

At this point, it seems that Johnson’s ‘sickening’ effect on Britain has reached a pandemic level of virulence.

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