Downing Street staff parties during lockdown were a regular occurrence, it has been revealed.
The newspaper Mirror has reported that government employees regularly held ‘wine time Fridays’ with the approval of the Prime Minister – who thought it was a good way to “let off steam”.
The weekly drinks were so popular that staff even invested in a £ 142 beverage fridge to keep their bottles of white wine, Prosecco and beer cool.
Read more: Revelers in Boris Johnson mask swig beer and sing “this is a work event” off Downing Street
The shocking report follows allegations that employees took turns taking a suitcase to a local supermarket to provide alcohol for the parties – even on the eve of Prince Philips’ funeral.
Downing Street also held socially distant drinks in May 2020 – at the height of the pandemic, when people could only meet one person from another household outdoors.
It is reported that Fridays with wine time were a “long-standing Downing Street tradition”, including under previous administrations, but that they continued after Covid restrictions were introduced, which banned indoor social gatherings between households.
Sources claimed that helpers visited the local Tesco Metro in Westminster with a wheeled suitcase to fill the fridge with 34 bottles up for a party – the night before Prince Philips’ funeral, where the queen was forced to sit alone due to Covid restrictions.
Two graduation contests – one for Mr Johnson’s top spin doctor James Slack and another for the Prime Minister’s photographer – took place in Downing Street on 16 April.
Sir. Slack, who left No. 10 last year to become deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun, said the party on April 16, 2021 “should not have happened at the time it happened”.
He said in an email statement issued by The Suns publisher, News UK: “I would like to apologize unreservedly for the anger and pain that has been caused. This event should not have taken place at the time it happened. I’m deeply sorry and take full responsibility. “
Downing Street has also apologized to the Queen.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No. 10
has apologized to the palace.
“You heard from the Prime Minister this week that he has recognized that No. 10 should be kept to the highest standards and take responsibility for things we did not get right.”
‘Vintidsfredage’ was planned in the electronic calendars for about 50 No 10 employees between kl. 16:00 and 19:00 every week.
The Times reports today that Sue Gray, the senior official investigating the amount of allegations of lockdown-busting parties in the UK government, has been “completely blinded” by the latest revelations.
Sources said gatherings sometimes continued as late as midnight with up to two dozen helpers drinking wine and beer and playing games like Pictionary.
They were particularly popular from the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2021, when staff were “tired” of the harsh Covid restrictions, sources said.
However, their popularity waned as the restrictions were lifted and staff no longer had to rely on them for social interaction.
According to The Telegraph, Johnson is now said to be seeking to divert attention from Sue Grays’ investigation by repealing Plan B measures, such as the Guide to Working From Home, at the end of the month,
The restrictions, designed to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, were due to expire on January 26, subject to review.
How are you doing with the revelations of the Downing Street staff partying while the nation endured harsh lockdown restrictions? Have your say in the comments below.
Stay up to date with the very latest from the region with our email updates.