Boris Johnson had a birthday party during the first lockdown of the pandemic. The latest revelation of yet another Downing Street party should be the final nail in his coffin.
On 19 June 2020, up to 30 people attended the event, sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed picnic food and cake for around 20-30 minutes. He won’t be able to spin this as a “work event”.
Meanwhile, ordinary people suffered throughout the pandemic. By 19 June 2020, the death toll for people who had died of the virus was over 40,000—not much to rejoice about.
But Number 10 staff and other special guests found it within themselves to “gather briefly” to “wish the prime minister a happy birthday”.
Downing Street claims Johnson was in attendance “for less than ten minutes”. This is ten minutes longer than people had with dying relatives.
At the time indoor gatherings of more than two people were banned except for work or education. And only six could gather outside—socially distanced.
The event took place in the Cabinet Room just after 2pm. It had been a surprise for Johnson after he returned from a trip to a school in Hertfordshire.
Johnson’s wife Carrie threw the party that included guests such as interior designer Lulu Lytle—not a member of Number 10 staff. Lytle designed Johnson’s renovated flat that was funded by a Tory donor.
And Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s private secretary who invited over 100 staff to the 20 May “bring your own booze” gathering, was also in attendance.
So too were Jack Doyle, Number 10’s current director of communications, and the head of operations Shelley Williams-Walker. They celebrated with members of Johnson’s private office, Number 10 special advisers and operations and events staff.
Just nine days prior, party animal Johnson asked the public “to continue to show restraint and respect the rules which are designed to keep us all safe”. And hours before the party kicked off, he had stood in silence for key workers who died in the pandemic.
Johnson’s family and friends also reportedly gathered in his official residence later that evening to continue the celebrations. But a spokesperson said, “This is totally untrue.” Instead, they say he hosted a small number of family members outside.
To add to the crisis in the Tory party, Theodore Agnew, a Cabinet Office minister, resigned from his post over the government’s handling of fraudulent Covid business loans.
Agnew announced his resignation in the House of Lords after it was revealed the Treasury last week wrote off £4.3 billion in Covid payments lost to fraud.
What is clear is that among the endless pandemic scandals and murderous policies, Johnson was laughing at us the entire time. And his contempt for ordinary people is more obvious than ever.
He cannot have his cake and eat it—Johnson must go now.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is expected to release only the “findings” of her report into Downing Street parties this week. Relying on Gray’s report to force Johnson out, or on pressure from disgruntled Tories, won’t take working class people forward.
Johnson has to be forced out by struggle from below to send a clear message to him, and his repulsive government. And such struggles are needed to stop the assaults on working class living standards.