Johnson faces Tory call to drop ‘bring your own wine’ event in lockdown


Orris Johnson has faced calls from senior Tories to step down after apologizing for attending a “bring your own wine” gathering in the No 10 garden during England’s first lockdown.

The prime minister insisted he believed it was a “work programme” and Downing Street said he would never encourage employees to bring a bottle and “make the most of the beautiful weather”. Email was not sent.

But in a sign of growing Tory anger, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called on him to step down, while another MP labeled the prime minister a “walking dead man”.

In the Commons Mr Johnson said he attended the 20 May 2020 gathering for about 25 minutes to “thank the staff’s groups”, but “I should have sent everyone back in”.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the public’s anger, saying: “I know how angry they feel with me and with the government I lead when they think in Downing Street that the rules are properly followed by the rule makers. Not being followed.”

He said an investigation was investigating the situation but acknowledged that “there were things we didn’t feel right and I should take responsibility”.

Downing Street declined to say whether his then-fiancée Carrie Symonds had attended the gathering, whether Mr Johnson had paid attention to the dinner tables or if he had brought his own bottle to the garden.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary told reporters that all such questions were the subject of investigation by senior official Sue Grey.

But she insisted Mr Johnson had not been sent an invitation email from his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, who was encouraging aides to “bring their own wine” to the garden.

After 6 p.m. on the day of the event, the time specified in the invitation for people to “make the most of the beautiful weather”, Mr Johnson went to the garden to thank the staff for their efforts and stayed for 25 minutes.