Johnson backs aide who organizes Downing Street ‘BYOB’ garden party

Tea

Senior Downing Street officials, who invited more than 100 employees to a “bring your own wine” party during the COVID restrictions, have retained the prime minister’s confidence.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman confirmed Martin Reynolds, the prime minister’s principal private secretary, is “continuing in his role” after ITV News revealed he had invited staff to the gathering during England’s first lockdown in May 2020.

Asked whether Mr Johnson still had full confidence in one of his most senior aides, the spokesman said he did.

The leaked email, which came to light on Monday, said: “Hello, after an incredibly busy period we thought it would be the best weather ever and some socially distancing drinks in the No.10 garden. this evening.

“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own wine!”

Mr Johnson will avoid an investigation into the allegations on Tuesday, as Paymaster General Michael Ellis was sent to the Commons to face an urgent question.

Asked what the Prime Minister was doing rather than answering himself, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I don’t have the full diary at the moment, but it is not unusual, obviously, for government ministers to ask such questions. It’s not unusual to respond.”

The prime minister declined to say whether he had attended the gathering with his now-wife, Carey, although it has been widely reported that he was there.

Downing Street officials have also declined to draw on the details of the allegations as they are being investigated by senior officer Sue Gray as part of an investigation into the claims of lockdown-busting parties in Whitehall and Downing Street.

Mr Ellis told MPs: “This will establish the facts and if wrongdoing is established necessary disciplinary action will be taken.

“As with all internal investigations, if evidence emerges of what was potentially a criminal offence, the matter will be referred to the Metropolitan Police and the Cabinet Office investigation will be halted.”

  • In England people were allowed to meet only one person from another household, provided they were at least two meters apart and outside.
  • People were not allowed to move to the homes of friends and family – unless it was for care and medical reasons, or to move the child to another home with which parental responsibilities were shared.
  • Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants remained closed.

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