UK

Five-year-old girl explains Partygate to her grandparents in hilarious video


This sassy schoolgirl, five, appears to understand Covid rules better than the Prime Minister – as she was caught on camera explaining why he’d been ‘naughty’ to attend the alleged Downing Street party. 

Little Layla Somani, from Leicester, Leicestershire, had been watching the news while having breakfast last week before taking it upon herself to explain the pressing political situation to grandparents Kanti Somani, 76, and Kusun Somani, 73. 

Her mother Devina Somani, 37, and father Nick Somani, 41, caught her hilariously detailed monologue on camera and shared it online, where social media users hailed her a ‘future PM’. 

Boris Johnson apologised for attending the party last week, saying he believed at the time it was a ‘work event.’ 

But today, Dominic Cummings gloated that the PM is ‘hastening the inevitable’ after he was torn apart over Partygate in an interview and left tearfully apologising to the Queen.

The former chief aide twisted the knife insisting Mr Johnson was ‘destroying his own support’ after he complained that ‘nobody told me’ a ‘BYOB’ bash in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 was not a work event. 

As he desperately tries to defuse the crisis, a weary and miserable Mr Johnson flatly denied Mr Cummings claim that he lied to Parliament over whether he was warned about the potential lockdown breach in advance.

But he repeatedly ducked saying whether he would resign if a civil service probe finds he did not tell the truth. 

At one point as he was confronted with the fact he needed to apologise to the Queen for a No10 leaving do on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year, the premier bowed his head and breathed heavily for several seconds, before seemingly composing himself and voicing ‘deep regret’ for what happened.  

The five-year-old said Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ‘been naughty’ and needs to go to the ‘naughty centre’ 

Little Layla Somani, from Leicester, had been watching the news while having breakfast on Thursday morning before taking it upon herself to explain the pressing political situation to grandparents Kanti Somani, 76, and Kusun Somani, 73

Little Layla Somani, from Leicester, had been watching the news while having breakfast on Thursday morning before taking it upon herself to explain the pressing political situation to grandparents Kanti Somani, 76, and Kusun Somani, 73

Rishi WALKS OUT of TV interview and refuses to give his full support to Boris Johnson as he fuels leadership speculation

Rishi Sunak today refused to give his unequivocal backing to Boris Johnson over the Partygate row as senior Tory figures faced accusations of plotting to replace the Prime Minister. 

The Chancellor fuelled Tory leadership speculation as he abruptly ended a TV interview this morning when he was asked if he is giving the PM his full support. 

Mr Sunak had said he believes Mr Johnson is telling the truth over the row and backed his request for ‘patience’ as senior Cabinet Office official Sue Gray conducts a formal inquiry.  

Meanwhile, former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt gave a major hint that he could potentially fight for the Tory leadership as he said in an interview that his ambition to lead the Conservative Party has not ‘completely vanished’.  

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who like Mr Sunak has high support among the Tory grassroots, is believed to have been holding ‘Fizz with Liz’ meetings with Conservative MPs in a bid to win their backing.  

In the funny clip, eloquent Layla explains: ‘Boris Johnson told everyone to stay at home, but in lockdown he just went down to a party, in the lockdown. 

‘He’s been naughty, so he had to go to the naughty centre to tell everyone he’s sorry for going to a party in lockdown. 

‘Now he can’t be prime minister anymore and he can’t go back to his prime minister home, so he’s not prime minister anymore. 

‘So, someone else is being prime minister and there will be a good prime minister, but Boris Johnson is not a prime minister anymore, he’s a bad prime minister. 

‘But, if he’s lucky, he can go back to his prime minister home and he can be a prime minister again. We’ll see tomorrow if he’s lucky.’

Now her mum Devina has explained that the staunch royalist has promised she’ll ‘definitely become prime minister’ – as the video has had more than 55,000 views and 1,645 reactions. 

Devina said: ‘We couldn’t stop laughing. We couldn’t believe how much she’d picked up. 

‘When she was explaining it we thought ‘oh my god’. We couldn’t believe she’d learnt all this stuff and that she was absorbing it so well.

‘It was a normal morning. She was having her breakfast and she’d been watching a bit of the news. 

‘She went over to them and started explaining it. Nick said ‘hold on stop right there’ and started filming it. 

‘She just started coming out with it. She said he had to leave his house and go to the naughty centre. It was even funnier. 

‘It was amazing to capture the moment because some of these things she says you miss. She’s maybe a future politician. 

‘She’s absorbed that from the news herself. She was able to tell what’s right and wrong.’

Layla developed her interest in Boris Johnson and the Queen last year during a weekend in London with her family and since then has enjoyed watching news about them on TV. 

Devina said: ‘She was very proud when people said ‘Layla to be future PM’. She said ‘I’m too little at the moment’. 

‘She went ‘when I grow up I’ll definitely become prime minister’. Last year when we were able to go on holiday, we did one visit to London. 

She has a great passion for the Queen so we took her to Buckingham Palace and we were saying about how Boris Johnson runs the country for the Queen. 

‘We teach her certain things and from there, she’s had this thing for Boris Johnson and the Queen. She talks about 10 Downing Street because we showed her.’

Last week, the Prime Minister apologised for attending a party at Downing Street in May 2020. He said he believed this was a work event (pictured leaving Downing Street in December)

Last week, the Prime Minister apologised for attending a party at Downing Street in May 2020. He said he believed this was a work event (pictured leaving Downing Street in December)

The five-year-old eloquently resumed the current political situation, saying Boris Johnson needs to apologise for attending a party during lockdown in 2020

The five-year-old eloquently resumed the current political situation, saying Boris Johnson needs to apologise for attending a party during lockdown in 2020

Proud parents Nick and Davina, pictured with Layla and her little brother, said they can't believe how much of the news Layla absorbs

Proud parents Nick and Davina, pictured with Layla and her little brother, said they can’t believe how much of the news Layla absorbs 

The schoolgirl had just been watching the news during breakfast with her grandparents before school

The schoolgirl had just been watching the news during breakfast with her grandparents before school

Fans said Layla should run for Prime Minister. The five-year-old said she is 'too little,' but has not sworn off a political career for later in life

Fans said Layla should run for Prime Minister. The five-year-old said she is ‘too little,’ but has not sworn off a political career for later in life 

Bookies say Rishi Sunak is odds-on for next PM

Gambling firms have opened the books on who could be the next PM after Boris Johnson. So far Rishi Sunak is the favourite, but MailOnline looks at other candidates:

Rishi Sunak – 6/4

Liz Truss –  4/1

Keir Starmer – 8/1

Jeremy Hunt – 13/2

Michael Gove – 12/1 

Tom Tugendhat – 16/1

Sajid Javid – 16/1

Penny Mordaunt – 14/1

Dominic Raab – 16/1

Nadhim Zahawi – 33/1

Iain Duncan Smith – 33/1

Priti Patel – 33/1  

Steve Baker 33/1

Oliver Doden 40/1

Kwarsi Kwarteng – 50/1 

Jacob Rees-Mogg – 66/1

Matt Hancock – 100/1 

Caroline Lucas – 250/1

Dominic Cummings – 250/1

Laurence Fox – 500/1 

After the clip of clever Layla went viral, Devina showed her the comments, prompting the intelligent little girl to announce ‘I’ll definitely become prime minister’. 

Devina said: ‘Before she went to bed on Thursday, we showed her all the comments on social media. 

‘We were thinking should we share with our friends and family so we did. We can’t believe the response we’ve had.’

It comes as Conservative MP Pauline Latham said Boris Johnson would have to resign if he was found to have misled Parliament.

The Mid Derbyshire MP told Times Radio: ‘If he has lied to Parliament, there will be no choice. And I will be personally very saddened because I think he’s done a lot of really amazing things in the face of a pandemic, but that pandemic could be his undoing.’

She said: ‘At the end of the day, he made the rules, he was in that briefing room looking at the cameras saying this is what you have to do. So you can’t say didn’t know what the rules were. We all knew what the rules were.

‘And we all wanted to break them, there were people around this country that desperately wanted to break them because they want to see their loved ones. I just feel that we’ve got to get the truth here. We’ve got to find out the truth.

‘And if the truth is that he did mislead Parliament, I mean you just can’t do that. Parliament is sacrosanct, we have to tell the truth in Parliament, it is such an important principle that we should all adhere to.’

She added that ‘none of us are above the law’.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak refused to give his unequivocal backing to Mr Johnson over the Partygate row as senior Tory figures faced accusations of plotting to replace the Prime Minister. 

The Chancellor fuelled Tory leadership speculation as he abruptly ended a TV interview this morning when he was asked if he is giving the PM his full support. 

Mr Sunak had said he believes Mr Johnson is telling the truth over the row and backed his request for ‘patience’ as senior Cabinet Office official Sue Gray conducts a formal inquiry.  

Meanwhile, former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt gave a major hint that he could potentially fight for the Tory leadership as he said in an interview that his ambition to lead the Conservative Party has not ‘completely vanished’.  

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who like Mr Sunak has high support among the Tory grassroots, is believed to have been holding ‘Fizz with Liz’ meetings with Conservative MPs in a bid to win their backing.  

Mr Hunt, who has served as both foreign and health secretary, has discussed not having given up hope to become Tory leader.

Speaking to The House magazine he denied actively considering a run, before adding: ‘I won’t say my ambition has completely vanished, but it would take a lot to persuade me to put my hat into the ring.’

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss are seen as the frontrunners for any challenge to the Prime Minister.

But Mr Hunt was the strongest opponent against Mr Johnson when he won the leadership in 2019, with the current chairman of the Health Select Committee finishing in second place. 

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are to target Dominic Raab and other senior Conservatives loyal to Boris Johnson over partygate as they seek to steal Tory heartland seats at the next election.

The Justice Secretary’s marginal Surrey seat is the first target for the party’s new ad campaign that will highlight backing for the PM over the string of illegal gatherings in Downing Street during the Covid lockdowns.

Mr Raab’s Esher and Walton constituency is a major ‘Blue Wall’ goal for the Lib Dems, with the party having cut his majority from 23,298 in 2017 to 2,743 in 2019. 

Layla's grandparents, pictured, listened carefully to her explanation, while her father filmed the video

Layla’s grandparents, pictured, listened carefully to her explanation, while her father filmed the video

Davina said Layla is very interested in history and politics, and added she believes her daughter could one day be in politics

Davina said Layla is very interested in history and politics, and added she believes her daughter could one day be in politics 

Lib Dems target seats of Dominic Raab and other loyal MPs over partygate support for Boris Johnson

The Liberal Democrats are to target Dominic Raab and other senior Conservatives loyal to Boris Johnson over partygate as they seek to steal Tory heartland seats at the next election.

The Justice Secretary’s marginal Surrey seat is the first target for the party’s new ad campaign that will highlight backing for the PM over the string of illegal gatherings in Downing Street during the Covid lockdowns.

Mr Raab’s Esher and Walton constituency is a major ‘Blue Wall’ goal for the Lib Dems, with the party having cut his majority from 23,298 in 2017 to 2,743 in 2019. 

The leaflet quotes Mr Raab’s own words from an interview he gave last Wednesday after Mr Johnson admitted for the first time attending a drinks event in the No10 garden in May 2020.

In it he said: ‘I’m full supportive of this prime minister and I’m sure he will continue for many years to come.’

The Lib Dems are hoping to capitalise on anger among Tory voters in his seat and those held by other ministers and backbenchers who speak out in support of the Prime Minister when a report by civil servant Sue Gray is published.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: ‘Whilst people were unable to say goodbye to their loved ones, Boris Johnson and his staff held party after party after party, and when they got found out, they lied and lied and lied. People will never forgive a Conservative MP for defending that.   

‘It’s just embarrassing to see Dominic Raab defending Boris Johnson’s party antics. The Liberal Democrats will not allow Conservative MPs to hide behind the Sue Gray report next week. 

‘Whatever her findings, it is Boris Johnson who will decide his own fate and that makes the whole thing stink. The public will see right through this political stitch-up. Boris Johnson broke the law, he lied to parliament and the public and now he must resign.

‘If a Blue Wall Conservative MP chooses to use the Sue Gray report outcome as a reason to back Boris Johnson, we will make sure their constituents know about it.’

The leaflet quotes Mr Raab’s own words from an interview he gave last Wednesday after Mr Johnson admitted for the first time attending a drinks event in the No10 garden in May 2020.

In it he said: ‘I’m full supportive of this prime minister and I’m sure he will continue for many years to come.’

The Lib Dems are hoping to capitalise on anger among Tory voters in his seat and those held by other ministers and backbenchers who speak out in support of the Prime Minister when a report by civil servant Sue Gray is published.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: ‘Whilst people were unable to say goodbye to their loved ones, Boris Johnson and his staff held party after party after party, and when they got found out, they lied and lied and lied. People will never forgive a Conservative MP for defending that.   

‘It’s just embarrassing to see Dominic Raab defending Boris Johnson’s party antics. The Liberal Democrats will not allow Conservative MPs to hide behind the Sue Gray report next week. 

‘Whatever her findings, it is Boris Johnson who will decide his own fate and that makes the whole thing stink. The public will see right through this political stitch-up. Boris Johnson broke the law, he lied to parliament and the public and now he must resign.

‘If a Blue Wall Conservative MP chooses to use the Sue Gray report outcome as a reason to back Boris Johnson, we will make sure their constituents know about it.’

The Lib Dems are optimistic of making inroads in Tory heartlands mainly in the south after by-election wins in Chesham and Amersham and, most recently, North Shropshire.

Party officials in Esher and Walton – which voted 58-42 in favour of Remain in the 2016 EU referendum –  have previously warned that the seat could be lost at the next election.  A 2 per cent swing to the Liberal Democrats will see it turn orange. 

Meanwhile, Dominic Cummings has celebrated the government winning its appeal over a ruling it broke the law by awarding a £560,000 contract to a firm founded by his friends.

The PM’s former chief adviser said the Court of Appeal’s decision was ‘total vindication’ for his actions during the pandemic.

He also mocked the head of the Good Law Project, which brought the case against him, saying: ‘Lord Chief Justice crushes kimono-fox-killer.’

Anti-Brexit barrister Jolyon Maugham was thrust into the spotlight in 2019 when he butchered the animal with a baseball bat while wearing his wife’s gown.

He tweeted after today’s ruling he felt the decision was ‘wrong’ and his group would be asking to go to the Supreme Court.

Mr Sunak refused to give his unequivocal backing to his boss today, abruptly ending a TV interview this morning when pressed if he gives his full support.

Mr Sunak refused to give his unequivocal backing to his boss today, abruptly ending a TV interview this morning when pressed if he gives his full support.

Ms Truss, who like Sunak has high support among Tory grassroots, is also believed to have been holding 'Fizz with Liz' meetings with MPs to woo them to her cause.

Ms Truss, who like Sunak has high support among Tory grassroots, is also believed to have been holding ‘Fizz with Liz’ meetings with MPs to woo them to her cause.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been given 33/1 odds to be the next Prime Minister

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been given 33/1 odds to be the next Prime Minister

The Justice Secretary's marginal Surrey seat is the first target for the party's new ad campaign that will highlight backing for the PM over the string of illegal gatherings in Downing Street during the Covid lockdown.

The Justice Secretary’s marginal Surrey seat is the first target for the party’s new ad campaign that will highlight backing for the PM over the string of illegal gatherings in Downing Street during the Covid lockdown.

Elsewhere today, a lightsaber-wielding Labour politician seen dancing with Mr Johnson in a recently resurfaced viral video says she has ‘no regrets’ about her shuffle with the Prime Minister – who she has described as a ‘party animal’.

Jennette Arnold OBE, 72, has revealed that her hilarious dance with the Conservative leader was part of a long-running attempt to bring London Assembly members from all sides together.

The viral video is believed to have been filmed at a Christmas party for London Assembly staff in 2013, when Mr Johnson was the capital’s mayor and Mrs Arnold was a member.

But it has been circulating on social media in recent days – amid the ongoing Number 10 partygate row – and has since racked up more than four-million views.

Today Mrs Arnold said the event was ‘good fun’ and she has ‘no regrets’ about dancing with the Conservative leader, who she described as having ‘Eton moves’.

However she said she is worried the video could distract from the ongoing ‘partygate’ row.

Mr Johnson has been slammed for attending a bring your own booze (BYOB) garden event at Number 10 during lockdown and failing to tackle an alleged drinking culture at Downing Street.

The Tory leader insists he did not believe the drinks event to be a lockdown rule-breaking party.

But Mrs Arnold says the PM has a history of ‘total selfishness’ and ‘irresponsible’ behaviour’ from his London Mayor days and that she believed back then he was ‘not fit for higher office’.

She also insists that the Prime Minister must resign for allegedly flouting his own Government’s rules.

Asked about the video she said: ‘This is so separate (to Partygate), so different and it’s so important there shouldn’t be a link.

‘There isn’t anyone in this country that during that pandemic period didn’t suffer because they were either directly related or knew somebody who was dying or who was isolated, and because they were obeying the rules they couldn’t get to them.

Today Mrs Arnold (pictured) said the event was 'good fun' and she has 'no regrets' about dancing with the Conservative leader, who she described as a 'party animal' with 'Eton moves'

Today Mrs Arnold (pictured) said the event was ‘good fun’ and she has ‘no regrets’ about dancing with the Conservative leader, who she described as a ‘party animal’ with ‘Eton moves’

Boris Johnson and Jennette Arnold OBE and members of the British Armed forces pictured outside City Hall in June 2015 for the annual flag raising ceremony

Boris Johnson and Jennette Arnold OBE and members of the British Armed forces pictured outside City Hall in June 2015 for the annual flag raising ceremony

Boris Johnson is mocked for his dancing by Russian politicians on state TV as they discuss NUKING London 

Boris Johnson‘s dancing has been mocked by hardline Russian politicians on state TV as they joked about ‘destroying’ London – but sparing Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Footage of the prime minister boogying with a lightsabre-wielding London Assembly member when he was mayor emerged last week amid the ongoing ‘partygate’ scandal.

The viral clip reached state channel Rossiya 1 in Russia where pro-Kremlin host Vladimir Solovyov joked about the ‘famous dancer’ with hardline politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The pair scoffed at the dancing prime minister making threats towards Russia as they also warned of a ‘big tragedy’ ahead for Europe, with London in the crosshairs.

Solovyov said: ‘How can one live without London and its famous dancer Boris Johnson? Do you suggest depriving world culture of famous dancer Boris Johnson?’ 

‘These are the people threatening us, telling us who we should be. Great country – she is with a sword. 

‘What concerns me is that it was brought back into the system at this critical time, and there was an attempt to use it to further enhance Boris’ partying ways.

‘My thoughts and my deepest sympathy are with those who, like myself and the majority of people in this country and across the world, we lost our friends, we obeyed rules and it is expected, it is just such a basic requirement of public life that if you make the rules, you have got to stick to the rules for goodness sake.’

Mrs Arnold, who was a London Assembly Member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest but stepped down at the 2020 City Hall election, says the video was filmed at a City Hall Christmas party in either 2013 or 2015. 

The Labour veteran says it emerged out of a tradition of dancing with the mayor at City Hall Christmas parties as a way of bringing people closer together.

Meanwhile, the PM’s dancing has been mocked by hardline Russian politicians on state TV as they joked about ‘destroying’ London – but sparing Wales, Scotland and Ireland. 

The viral clip reached state channel Rossiya 1 in Russia where pro-Kremlin host Vladimir Solovyov joked about the ‘famous dancer’ with hardline politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The pair scoffed at the dancing prime minister making threats towards Russia as they also warned of a ‘big tragedy’ ahead for Europe, with London in the crosshairs.

Solovyov said: ‘How can one live without London and its famous dancer Boris Johnson? Do you suggest depriving world culture of famous dancer Boris Johnson?’ 

‘These are the people threatening us, telling us who we should be. Great country – she is with a sword. 

 ‘And Boris Johnson, I’m afraid to imagine what he has…. This woman is a member of the London assembly.’

Cummings gloats that Boris is ‘hastening the inevitable’ after PM is torn apart over Partygate and left tearfully apologising to the Queen and claiming ‘no one told me’ No10 drinks broke rules – as his ratings plunge again and Tory mutiny ramps up

Dominic Cummings gloated that Boris Johnson is ‘hastening the inevitable’ today after the PM was torn apart over Partygate in an interview and left tearfully apologising to the Queen.

The former chief aide twisted the knife insisting the PM was ‘destroying his own support’ after he complained that ‘nobody told me’ a ‘BYOB’ bash in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 was not a work event. 

As he desperately tries to defuse the crisis, a weary and miserable Mr Johnson flatly denied Mr Cummings claim that he lied to Parliament over whether he was warned about the potential lockdown breach in advance.

But he repeatedly ducked saying whether he would resign if a civil service probe finds he did not tell the truth. 

At one point as he was confronted with the fact he needed to apologise to the Queen for a No10 leaving do on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year, the premier bowed his head and breathed heavily for several seconds, before seemingly composing himself and voicing ‘deep regret’ for what happened. 

Asked if he had lied as he broke cover for the first time in days, Mr Johnson said: ‘No. I want to begin by repeating my apologies to everybody for the misjudgments that I’ve made, that we may have made in No10 and beyond, whether in Downing Street or throughout the pandemic.

‘Nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules, that the event in question was something that … was not a work event, and as I said in the House of Commons when I went out into that garden I thought that I was attending a work event.’

The comments came as Rishi Sunak fuelled speculation about his unhappiness by stalking out of an interview while being grilled about the Partygate furore and whether he ‘unequivocally’ backed the PM. 

Grim YouGov polling has found that 64 per cent of the public now believe Mr Johnson should resign, up from an already-dire 48 per cent in November.

Tory MPs were aghast at Mr Johnson’s performance, with one simply texting ‘FFS’. A Tory aide said: ‘Awful, just awful.’ 

A normally supportive MP told MailOnline: ‘It didn’t look good or sound good… why did he keep the mask on? 

‘The best he can hope out of this is to say the rules were not clear enough… whether that is enough grey to give him protection I am not sure. People on the way the Queen and the Palace operated. There are no pictures or stories of them having parties.’

A Conservative MP added: ‘He looks as if he has been used as a punchbag for the past week. Which is roughly right. He knows there are others in the wings waiting now.’ 

Boris Johnson looked close to tears today as he denied lying about Partygate but admitted he was 'deeply sorry' for his 'misjudgements'

Boris Johnson looked close to tears today as he denied lying about Partygate but admitted he was ‘deeply sorry’ for his ‘misjudgements’

As he desperately tries to defuse explosive claims from Dominic Cummings that he misled Parliament, the PM insisted 'categorically' that 'nobody told me' a 'BYOB' bash in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 was not a work event

As he desperately tries to defuse explosive claims from Dominic Cummings that he misled Parliament, the PM insisted ‘categorically’ that ‘nobody told me’ a ‘BYOB’ bash in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 was not a work event

Rishi Sunak fuelled speculation about his unhappiness as he stalked out of an interview while being grilled about the Partygate furore

Rishi Sunak (right) fuelled speculation about his unhappiness as he stalked out of an interview while being grilled about the Partygate furore and whether he had confidence in Boris Johnson (left)

Mr Cummings tweeted after the interviews, using the hashtag 'RegimeChange'. OODA is a military decision-making process - Observe, Orient, Decide, Act

Mr Cummings tweeted after the interviews, using the hashtag ‘RegimeChange’. OODA is a military decision-making process – Observe, Orient, Decide, Act

Grim YouGov polling has found that 64 per cent of the public now believe Mr Johnson should resign, up from an already-dire 48 per cent in November

Grim YouGov polling has found that 64 per cent of the public now believe Mr Johnson should resign, up from an already-dire 48 per cent in November

How could Boris Johnson be ousted by Tory MPs?  

Boris Johnson is under huge pressure over Partygate, with speculation that he might even opt to walk away.

But barring resignation, the Tories have rules on how to oust and replace the leader. 

What is the mechanism for removing the Tory leader? Tory Party rules allow the MPs to force a vote of no confidence in their leader.

How is that triggered? A vote is in the hands of the chairman of the Tory Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

A vote of no confidence must be held if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to the chairman. Currently that threshold is 54 MPs.

Letters are confidential unless the MP sending it makes it public. This means only Sir Graham knows how many letters there are. 

What happens when the threshold is reached? A vote is held, with the leader technically only needing to win support from a simple majority of MPs

But in reality, a solid victory is essential for them to stay in post.

What happens if the leader loses? 

The leader is sacked if they do not win a majority of votes from MPs, and a leadership contest begins in which they cannot stand.

However, they typically stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is elected. 

Pushed on whether he believed the premier’s denials that he knew a ‘BYOB’ gathering in Downing Street in May 2020 was a social event, Mr Sunak said: ‘Of course I do.’

But he merely ‘referred’ people to Mr Johnson’s own words when pressed on the details, and challenged on whether Mr Johnson would have to quit if he knowingly misled parliament he said: ‘The ministerial code is clear on these matters.’  

Mr Johnson has been warned he must prove he is ‘house trained’ after his former chief aide launched his latest vicious attack. 

The claim contradicts the premier’s statement to the House of Commons last Wednesday, when he insisted he believed ‘implicitly’ that the gathering was a work event. 

Mail columnist Dominic Lawson has revealed that at least two staff warned Mr Johnson that the event should not go ahead. 

For the second week running Downing Street has insisted that there was no discussion of the Partygate row at the regular Cabinet meeting this morning. But Labour said Mr Johnson obviously knew he had reached the ‘end of the road’. 

Mr Johnson looked in agony as he fielded questions for the first time this week, having isolated due to a close family member testing positive for Covid.

‘I am deeply sorry for misjudgments that were made. I carry full responsibility for what took place,’ Mr Johnson said during the visit to a north London hospital.

‘Nobody said to me this is an event that is against the rules, that is in breach of what we’re asking everybody else to do, it should not go ahead.

‘What I remember is going out into that garden for a short time and for 25 minutes thanking staff who’d worked on Covid, who were continuing to work on Covid, and then going back to office

‘If I had my time again, I would not have allowed things to develop in that way.’ 

Challenged again on whether he had been verbally warned about the gathering in the Downing Street garden, Mr Johnson said: ‘I can tell you categorically, categorically, that nobody told me and nobody said that this was something that was against the rules or was a breach of the Covid rules or we were doing something that wasn’t a work event because, frankly, I don’t think, I can’t imagine why on earth it would have gone ahead or why it would have been allowed to go ahead.

‘My memory of this event, as I’ve said, is going out into the garden for about 25 minutes for what I implicitly thought was a work event and talking to staff, thanking staff, I can’t remember exactly how many – but for about 25 minutes I was there. I then went back to my office and continued my work.’

He added: ‘I do humbly apologise to people for misjudgments that were made. But that is the very, very best of my recollection about this event.’

On whether he will resign if Ms Gray sets out a different picture, Mr Johnson said: ‘We’ll have to see what she says. I think that she should be given the space to get on and conclude her inquiry.

‘I would urge everybody who has knowledge of this, memories of this, to tell her what they know.

‘Let’s see what the report says.’  

Writing on his Substack blog last night, Mr Cummings suggested that worse might still be to come for No10.

Writing on his Substack blog last night, Mr Cummings suggested that worse might still be to come for No10.

Mr Cummings said he and 'other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened'

Lord Hague mocked the 'Prime Spaniel' saying Mr Johnson needs to show he is 'house trained'

Mr Cummings (left) said he and ‘other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened’. Lord Hague (right) mocked the ‘Prime Spaniel’ saying Mr Johnson needs to show he is ‘house trained’

Tory chair Oliver Dowden

Mr Raab today

Tory chair Oliver Dowden (left) and Mr Raab were in Downing Street today for the weekly Cabinet meeting

Mr Cummings suggested in a post on his Substack blog on Monday, that worse might still be to come for No10

Mr Cummings suggested in a post on his Substack blog on Monday, that worse might still be to come for No10

Lib Dems target Raab and other loyal MPs over partygate support for Boris Johnson 

The Liberal Democrats are to target Dominic Raab and other senior Conservatives loyal to Boris Johnson over partygate as they seek to steal Tory heartland seats at the next election.

The Justice Secretary’s marginal Surrey seat is the first target for the party’s new ad campaign that will highlight backing for the PM over the string of illegal gatherings in Downing Street during the Covid lockdown.

Mr Raab’s Esher and Walton constituency is a major ‘Blue Wall’ goal for the Lib Dems, with the party having cut his majority from 23,298 in 2017 to 2,743 in 2019. 

The leaflet quotes Mr Raab’s own words from an interview he gave last Wednesday after Mr Johnson admitted for the first time attending a drinks event in the No10 garden in May 2020.

In it he said: ‘I’m full supportive of this prime minister and I’m sure he will continue for many years to come.’

The Lib Dems are hoping to capitalise on anger among Tory voters in his seat and those held by other ministers and backbenchers who speak out in support of the Prime Minister when a report by civil servant Sue Gray is published.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: ‘Whilst people were unable to say goodbye to their loved ones, Boris Johnson and his staff held party after party after party, and when they got found out, they lied and lied and lied. People will never forgive a Conservative MP for defending that.’   

Mr Sunak said in his clip shortly before: ‘The Prime Minister set out his understanding of this matter last week in Parliament. I refer you to his words.

‘Sue Gray is conducting an inquiry into this matter and I fully support the Prime Minister’s requests for patience while that concludes.’

Asked if the Prime Minister should resign if he lied to Parliament, Mr Sunak said: ‘I am not going to get into hypotheticals, the ministerial code is clear on these matters.’

Mr Cummings tweeted after the interviews, using the hashtag ‘RegimeChange’.

He said Mr Johnson’s ‘OODA loop’ – a military decision-making process that runs through Observe, Orient, Decide, Act – was ‘fkd’.

‘Your best line of defence is … catastrophic, and the more media you do defending yourself the more you destroy your own support & hasten the inevitable,’ he wrote. 

Unrest on the Conservative benches is ramping up after a shock poll laid bare the damage being done by the scandal, putting Labour 13 points ahead. 

Tory ex-leader Lord Hague ridiculed Mr Johnson as the ‘Prime Spaniel’ in a column today, saying he must show he is ‘fully house-trained’ to save himself. He cautioned that the premier would be in a ‘lonely category of his own’ if he is ousted from power over ‘standards of probity’.   

‘There will be a temptation to make ‘Operation Save Big Dog’ about sacking some staff and reannouncing some policies,’ the peer wrote in the Times. ‘A respected culture of disciplined teamwork, however, starts with the Prime Spaniel showing he is fully house-trained and leading the whole kennels. 

‘We are about to discover whether Johnson is able to do that, and be quick enough about it to remain in power.’

Downing Street again denied today that Mr Johnson had lied to Parliament.

The PM’s official spokesman said: ‘You have seen us say repeatedly that it is untrue that the Prime Minister was warned about the event (on May 20, 2020) in advance and you have got the Prime Minister’s statement to the House.’

On whether Mr Johnson will quit if he misled Parliament, the spokesman said: ‘The guidance is clear, the ministerial code is very clear on this point when it comes to knowingly misleading the House and the Prime Minister abides by that, and we fully support it.’

The spokesman added it was important not to ‘jump ahead’ and conflate what was in the ministerial code with ‘what the investigation may or may not conclude or set out’.

Pressed on whether the Prime Minister had ever lied to the House, the spokesman said: ‘No.’

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Boris Johnson clearly knows it’s the end of the road.

‘He’s the Prime Minister, he set the rules, he didn’t need anyone to tell him that the party he attended broke them.

‘If he had any respect for the British public, he would do the decent thing and resign.’

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Johnson’s deputy Dominic Raab branded the latest allegations from Mr Cummings ‘nonsense’. He insisted he is ‘confident’ the PM had been ‘straightforward’ with the Commons, and urged people to wait for the results of the probe by top civil servant Sue Gray.

Pushed on whether Mr Johnson should resign if he had ‘knowingly misled’ MPs, Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think the ministerial code should be followed at all times.’

Asked again if a minister must resign if they lie to Parliament and fail to correct themselves, Mr Raab said: ‘Yes.’

However, on Mr Johnson’s future Mr Raab said: ‘I’m confident he will carry on for many years and into the next election.’ He told Times Radio: ‘The suggestion that he lied is nonsense.’

Two of Mr Johnson’s ministers have added their voices to criticism, bemoaning the impact on public trust in the government.

Science minister George Freeman said he was ‘shocked and flabbergasted’ by the revelations, and questioned why staff were able to enjoy such gatherings while his constituents ‘couldn’t see dying loved ones’.

Home Office staff ‘had drinks to celebrate policy launch during lockdown’ 

The Home Office has admitted a ‘small number’ of staff enjoyed a drink together while watching news coverage of an immigration policy launch during lockdown last year.

The department was responding to claims that some of its press and events team ‘mingled’ and drank Prosecco in their office while Covid restrictions were in force on March 24 2021.

The Big Issue reported that around a dozen staff members gathered to celebrate an announcement on immigration rules leading the BBC News at Six.

That day, Priti Patel had told the Commons she was introducing a ‘comprehensive, fair but firm’ plan which would address those entering the UK illegally.

At the time, the country was still under strict coronavirus rules – with indoor mixing between households banned.

The Big Issue said there was no suggestion the Home Secretary was present or aware of the drinks.

It said a source described the refreshments as ‘four bottles of Prosecco’ and crisps, with people ‘nominally at desks’.

Asked about the level of mixing, the source reportedly added: ‘Mingling is a fair description – water cooler stuff.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘In line with the guidance at the time, some members of staff came into the office to launch a major immigration policy.

‘A small number had a drink whilst watching the broadcast coverage of their work on 6pm news bulletins before returning to work or going home.’ 

Similarly, health minister Maria Caulfield insisted that regardless of whether the rules were ‘technically’ breached or not by the parties, ‘the spirit of the rules’ was. She added that she would ‘consider what action is needed’ when Ms Gray’s report into the events is published. 

Former minister Desmond Swayne warned that the investigation by Ms Gray cannot be a ‘get out of jail free card’ by focusing on the precise legal definition of lockdown breaches.   

‘If this does indeed turn out to be the Monopoly ‘get out of jail free card’, I fear it just won’t wash because the distinction between regulation and guidance was never clear in the minds of the public in the first place,’ Sir Desmond said.

The row escalated again after Mr Cummings suggested in a post on his Substack blog yesterday that worse might still be to come for No10.

‘Amid discussion over the future of the Cabinet Secretary (Simon Case) and PPS (Reynolds) himself, which had been going on for days, I said to the PM something like: ”Martin’s invited the building to a drinks party, this is what I’m talking about, you’ve got to grip this madhouse”,’ he wrote.

‘The PM waved it aside. I had told him repeatedly the PPS should be replaced, as had other competent officials who knew the whole structure needed a huge upgrade in personnel and management.’ 

He added: ‘Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened.’ 

Downing Street has denied the claims, with a spokesman saying: ‘It is untrue that the Prime Minister was warned about the event in advance. 

‘As he said earlier this week he believed implicitly that this was a work event.

‘He has apologised to the House and is committed to making a further statement once the investigation concludes.’

A survey by Redfield and Wilton Strategies conducted yesterday showed Labour on 43 per cent, up four in a week, while the Tories were on 30 per cent, down five.

At the same time Mr Cummings, who was ousted in late 2020 after losing a Downing Street power struggle, sent an ominous warning to the PM that there could be more trouble to come.

He wrote: ‘There are many other photos of parties after I left yet to appear. I’ll say more when SG’s report is published.’

Mr Johnson was forced to apologise last week after it emerged his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds invited more than 100 members of staff to a ‘bring your own booze’ bash in the No 10 garden in May 2020 during the first lockdown.

The PM admitted he attended for 25 minutes to ‘thank’ staff, but argued he believed it was a work event and could ‘technically’ have been within the rules.

There were claims aides used a suitcase on wheels to go out and pick up booze for the gathering from a nearby shop. 

The PM is now believed to have been grilled by top civil servant Sue Gray, who could deliver her report on the bewildering array of allegations about lockdown breaches in Whitehall within days – although it might not come until next week.

PM grovels to the Queen after leaving do on the eve of Duke’s funeral 

Boris Johnson has publicly apologised to the Queen and the country over events in Downing Street on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

Two parties were held in No 10 at a time of national mourning and with England under restrictions banning indoor mixing of households.

The Prime Minister, who was at Chequers at the time of the parties in April 2021, appeared emotional when he was asked about the incidents.

He could be heard breathing heavily behind his face mask when asked for his response to the events.

‘I deeply and bitterly regret that that happened,’ he said.

Downing Street has previously confirmed that an apology had been offered to Buckingham Palace after the parties came to light, but that was delivered through officials.

Mr Johnson publicly apologised to the Queen as he faced the cameras on Tuesday at Finchley Memorial Hospital in north London.

‘I can only renew my apologies both to Her Majesty and to the country for misjudgments that were made, and for which I take full responsibility.’

The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on April 16 2021, as the country was in a period of mourning after the death of the Duke.

The following day, the Queen sat alone – socially distanced from her family – as she mourned her husband.

The events were to mark the departures of James Slack as Mr Johnson’s director of communications and also one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.

The government has been mobilising a huge effort to rescue Mr Johnson, with crowd-pleasing announcements on bringing in the military to tackle the Channel migrant crisis and reforming the BBC.

There is also speculation that he is ready to jettison some of his most senior aides and ban alcohol in Downing Street in order to shore up his premiership. 

Asked if the Prime Minister should resign if he misled Parliament, Mr Raab told Sky News: ‘I’m not going to speculate on hypotheticals. I’m confident he’s been straightforward with the House of Commons.’

Pressed about Mr Cummings’ claims, Mr Raab said: ‘The PM has been very clear that that’s not true or accurate.’

Mr Raab also briefly got tangled up as he denied that the ‘BYOB’ bash was held to thank him for filling in while the PM was ill with Covid.

‘There was speculation that the May 20 party was held in my honour to thank me, it’s just ridiculous,’ he said.

Presenter Kay Burley broke in to say: ‘So it was a party!’ 

But Mr Raab hastily corrected himself insisting ‘no, no, no’. ‘This is the claim that was made, it was nonsense, I wasn’t invited and I didn’t attend,’ he said.

MPs have returned from their constituencies reporting a beasting from voters on the doorstep and in mailbags. 

Writing on his blog, Sir Desmond said he had received ‘huge correspondence’ on the issue. He pointed out he voted against most of the regulations.  

‘The principal difficulty was confusion between what was regulation and what was only guidance. This even confused police officers, with people being told to stop doing things which, in fact, they were entitled to do,’ he wrote.

‘I rather think that Sue Gray’s inquiry into parties in Downing Street will focus on this distinction between regulation and guidance and, in particular, the fact that Number 10 is a place of work and not a dwelling, where the rules were quite different.

If this does indeed turn out to be the Monopoly ‘get out of jail free card’, I fear it just won’t wash because the distinction between regulation and guidance was never clear in the minds of the public in the first place.

‘As far as they are concerned it looks like one rule for us and another for everyone else.

Sir Desmond also warned: ‘A significant danger for the PM, were he to be exonerated by Sue Gray’s inquiry, is that some new allegation then hits the headlines.’

One Northern MP told MailOnline yesterday that the response from voters was ‘terrible’, and even worse than during the notorious Barnard Castle row involving Dominic Cummings.

‘It’s worse because he was breaking the rules that he himself made and told everyone to obey. He can relaunch, hide behind reports, do what he wants. The public have made their minds up,’ the Tory MP said. 

Sadiq Khan today

Sue Gray

Boris Johnson has been quizzed by senior civil servant Sue Gray (right) over the Partygate allegations that have rocked the Tory party in recent weeks. London Mayor Sadiq Khan (left today) has called for him to resign 

hitehall appears to already be bracing for Ms Gray's findings, with the Prime Minister launching a pre-emptive 'policy blitz' in an attempt to push back against the biggest crisis he has endured since taking office in 2019. Pictured: One of the 'illicit parties' held in Downing Street gardens on May 17, 2020

hitehall appears to already be bracing for Ms Gray’s findings, with the Prime Minister launching a pre-emptive ‘policy blitz’ in an attempt to push back against the biggest crisis he has endured since taking office in 2019. Pictured: One of the ‘illicit parties’ held in Downing Street gardens on May 17, 2020

George Freeman

Maria Caulfield

Two more of Mr Johnson’s ministers (left, George Freeman; right, Maria Caulfield) have openly criticised No10 over Partygate, warning the scandals have caused ‘serious damage’ to public trust in the government

Another said they were getting grief from ‘a good number of Tories and just ordinary people who don’t say their politics but feel compelled to write to say they want Boris to resign’. However, they voiced hope that the focus might finally be starting to shift to other stories.

In the latest Partygate allegations, it emerged that Mr Johnson attended a leaving do for defence adviser Captain Steve Higham before Christmas 2020, where he gave a speech.

The PM’s spokesman has also been forced to deny extraordinary claims that Mr Johnson and his staff refer to him as ‘big dog’. 

Lockdown… or party time in Whitehall? The alleged gatherings during the pandemic  

Here is a list of the alleged gatherings, which in several cases have been admitted to.

– May 15 2020: Downing Street garden party

Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, were all pictured, in a photograph leaked to The Guardian, sitting around a table in the No 10 garden, with wine and cheese in front of them.

Some 15 other people were also in the photograph, but the Prime Minister has insisted this was a work meeting, saying: ‘Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.’

– May 20 2020: BYOB garden party

The revelation came in an email, leaked to ITV, from Mr Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees inviting them to ‘bring your own booze’ for an evening gathering.

Multiple reports have suggested the Prime Minister attended the event with his wife.

– November 13 2020: Leaving party for senior aide

According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and a close ally of Mr Cummings.

– November 13 2020: Johnsons’ flat party

There are allegations that the Prime Minister’s then fiancee hosted parties in their flat, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13, the night Mr Cummings departed No 10.

A spokesman for Mrs Johnson has called the claim ‘total nonsense’.

– November 25 2020: Treasury drinks

A Treasury spokesman told The Times that a number of staff had gone into the office to work on the Spending Review.

He said: ‘We have been made aware that a small number of those staff had impromptu drinks around their desks after the event.’

– November 27 2020: Second staff leaving do

The Mirror reported that the Prime Minister gave a farewell speech to an aide at the end of November while the lockdown in England was still in place.

Other reports have said the leaving do was for Cleo Watson, a senior Downing Street aide and ally of Mr Cummings.

– December 10 2020: Department for Education party

The DfE confirmed a social event had happened after The Mirror reported that former education secretary Gavin Williamson threw a party and delivered a short speech at an event organised at his department’s Whitehall headquarters.

A spokesman acknowledged that ‘it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time’.

– December 11 2020: Wine fridge delivered to Downing Street for staff’s ‘wine-time Fridays’

A fridge with the capacity for 34 wine bottles was delivered through the back door of No 10.

According to sources cited by The Mirror, the fridge became necessary for staff’s ‘wine-time Fridays’ which were held throughout lockdown, with the Prime Minister allegedly encouraging the parties to help aides ‘let off steam’.

The regular social gatherings were reported to be particularly popular among staff between autumn 2020 and spring 2020 when staff were ‘fatigued’ with tough Covid restrictions that banned socialising.

Mr Johnson was said to have attended a ‘handful’ of these gatherings.

– December 14 2020: Party featuring Tory London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and staff

Shaun Bailey apologised ‘unreservedly’ for attending the gathering at Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) organised by staff on his campaign team.

‘It was a serious error of judgment at a time when Londoners were making immense sacrifices to keep us all safe and I regret it wholeheartedly,’ he tweeted.

He quit his role chairing the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee after The Mirror published a picture showing him at the gathering.

– December 15 2020: Downing Street quiz

The Prime Minister appeared on contestants’ screens at the quiz but insisted he broke no rules.

An image published by the Sunday Mirror showed Mr Johnson flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in No 10.

Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson ‘briefly’ attended the quiz after the photographic evidence emerged but insisted it was a virtual event.

– December 16 2020: Department for Transport party

The Mirror reported that senior civil servants were ‘boozing and dancing’ at the event, allegedly planned by staff from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ office.

A DfT spokesman said: ‘Fewer than a dozen staff who were working in the office had a low-key, socially distanced gathering in the large open-plan office after work on December 16, where food and drink was consumed.

‘We recognise this was inappropriate and apologise for the error of judgment.’

– December 17 2020: Cabinet Office ‘Christmas party’

A number of outlets reported that a gathering was held in the Cabinet Office on December 17.

The Times reported that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended the party in room 103 of the Cabinet Office, that it had been organised by a private secretary in Mr Case’s team, and that it was included in digital calendars as ‘Christmas party!’.

The Cabinet Office confirmed a quiz took place, but a spokesman said: ‘The Cabinet Secretary played no part in the event, but walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office.’

– December 17 2020: Leaving drinks for former Covid Taskforce head

The former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce said she was ‘truly sorry’ over an evening gathering in the Cabinet Office for her leaving drinks during coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas in 2020.

Kate Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she gathered with colleagues who were in the office that day and added that she is co-operating with the probe by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

– December 18 2020: Christmas party at Downing Street

The claim which kicked off the rule-breaking allegations is that a party was held for Downing Street staff on December 18.

Officials and advisers reportedly made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged Secret Santa gifts, although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.

Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, quit after being filmed joking about it with fellow aides at a mock press conference.

– Run up to Christmas 2020

The Daily Mirror reported that Mr Johnson attended a leaving do for defence adviser Captain Steve Higham before Christmas 2020.

The newspaper alleged the Prime Minister made a speech but No 10 did not respond to a request for comment and the Ministry of Defence declined.

– April 16 2021: Drinks and dancing the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on the Friday night.

They were to mark the departure of James Slack, Mr Johnson’s former director of communications, and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.

Mr Slack, who left his No 10 role to become deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper, said he was sorry for the ‘anger and hurt’ caused by his leaving do, while Downing Street apologised to the Queen.

The Telegraph quoted a No 10 spokesman as saying Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day and is said to have been at Chequers.

The newspaper reported accounts from witnesses who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, adding that it had been told that around 30 people attended both events combined.

 

Long-standing Downing Street drinking culture saw people start boozing at lunchtime and ‘wake up in their clothes’ after crashing on sofas, says former aide summarily sacked by Dominic Cummings

Sonia Khan highlighted the historic behaviour at the heart of Government amid signs Boris Johnson is considering imposing an alcohol ban to quell rising anger about Partygate

Sonia Khan highlighted the historic behaviour at the heart of Government amid signs Boris Johnson is considering imposing an alcohol ban to quell rising anger about Partygate

Downing Street could start boozing at lunch and wake up in the same clothes after crashing on sofas as part of a long-standing drinking culture, a former aide claimed today.

Sonia Khan highlighted the historic behaviour at the heart of Government amid signs Boris Johnson is considering imposing an alcohol ban to quell rising anger about Partygate.

Ms Khan worked in No10 and the Treasury during the premierships of David Cameron and Theresa May before being summarily sacked in a row with Dominic Cummings after Boris Johnson came to power but before the pandemic – later settling an unfair dismissal claim.

In an interview, she said drinking had long been ‘normalised’ in Downing Street.

But she argued that the previous culture was ‘totally different’ to the allegations of partying while the public was ordered to abide by restrictions to tackle coronavirus.

Mr Johnson was forced to apologise last week after it emerged his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 members of staff to a ‘bring your own booze’ party in the No 10 garden in May 2020 during the first lockdown.

The PM admitted he attended but argued he believed it was a work event that could ‘technically’ have been within the rules.

There were claims aides used a suitcase on wheels to go out and pick up booze for the gathering from a nearby shop.  

In an interview, Ms Khan said drinking had long been 'normalised' in Downing Street

In an interview, Ms Khan said drinking had long been ‘normalised’ in Downing Street

Tory MPs report ‘terrible’ weekend canvassing voters and warn ‘Operation Red Meat’ policy blitz won’t quell Partygate row 

Tories warned Boris Johnson his ‘Operation Red Meat’ policy blitz might not be enough to save his bacon today as ministers hesitated about saying he is ‘safe’.

The PM is now believed to have been grilled by top civil servant Sue Gray, who could deliver her report on the bewildering array of allegations about lockdown breaches in Whitehall within days.

The government has been gearing up for a huge effort to rescue Mr Johnson, with crowd-pleasing announcements on bringing in the military to tackle the Channel migrant crisis and reforming the BBC.

There is also speculation that he is ready to jettison some of his most senior aides and ban alcohol in Downing Street in order to shore up his premiership. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted Mr Johnson ‘feels the pain’ of the public at the apparent flouting of the restrictions the country was living under.

He argued that Mr Johnson was ‘human’ and had apologised for his ‘mistake’ in attending a social event on May 2020. But Mr Zahawi had to be asked three times on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme before saying the premier was ‘safe’ in his job.

And MPs have returned from their constituencies reporting a beasting from voters on the doorstep and in mailbags. One Northern MP told MailOnline that the response was ‘terrible’, and even worse than during the notorious Barnard Castle row involving Dominic Cummings.

‘It’s worse because he was breaking the rules that he himself made and told everyone to obey. He can relaunch, hide behind reports, do what he wants. The public have made their minds up,’ the Tory MP said. 

Ms Khan told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: ‘Usually these drinking sessions are sandwiched between pieces of work, so it feels like a very, very routine thing. 

‘Drinks could start at lunch time, they could start a little bit later in the day – different teams do things very differently – but the idea of mini fridges or having drinks underneath your table wasn’t uncommon.’

Ms Khan said ‘senior people at No 10’ going back two decades had used drinks as a way of thanking staff for working ‘very, very long hours’.

Asked if people had been so hungover they had slept on sofas in Downing Street, she said: ‘I did see a few instances of that – people waking up in the same clothes the next day.

‘But obviously I didn’t work during a pandemic and it didn’t happen very often back then, I should say. I can’t speak for what it’s like now.’

Ms Khan said: ‘Drinks in No 10 … feel like such a normalised thing so it doesn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary.

‘Now in a pandemic that’s totally different and you can absolutely say that people should’ve had the oversight, given that they are all so smart and intelligent.’

Ms Khan worked as a civil servant in No 10 under Mr Cameron, before working in the Treasury as a special adviser during Mrs May’s leadership.

She briefly remained in the Treasury after Mr Johnson took over, but was marched out of Downing Street by armed police after being sacked by Dominic Cummings in August 2019 over allegations of leaking.

She later settled a claim against the Government for unfair dismissal.

Mr Cummings hit back on Twitter today insisting there was no drinking culture at No10 in May 2020, and accusing Ms Khan of being a ‘useful idiot’ helping shore up Mr Johnson’s position. 

Meanwhile, Tories have warned Boris Johnson his ‘Operation Red Meat’ policy blitz might not be enough to save his bacon as even ministers hesitated about saying he is ‘safe’.

The PM is now believed to have been grilled by top civil servant Sue Gray, who could deliver her report on the bewildering array of allegations about lockdown breaches in Whitehall within days.

The government has been gearing up for a huge effort to rescue Mr Johnson, with crowd-pleasing announcements on bringing in the military to tackle the Channel migrant crisis and reforming the BBC.

There is also speculation that he is ready to jettison some of his most senior aides and ban alcohol in Downing Street in order to shore up his premiership. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted Mr Johnson ‘feels the pain’ of the public at the apparent flouting of the restrictions the country was living under.

He argued that Mr Johnson was ‘human’ and had apologised for his ‘mistake’ in attending a social event on May 2020. But Mr Zahawi had to be asked three times on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme before saying the premier was ‘safe’ in his job.

Boris Johnson (pictured running this morning) is believed to have been grilled by top civil servant Sue Gray, who could deliver her report on the bewildering array of allegations about lockdown breaches in Whitehall within days

Boris Johnson (pictured running this morning) is believed to have been grilled by top civil servant Sue Gray, who could deliver her report on the bewildering array of allegations about lockdown breaches in Whitehall within days

Mr Cummings hit back on Twitter today insisting there was no drinking culture at No10 in May 2020, and accusing Ms Khan of being a 'useful idiot' helping shore up Mr Johnson's position

Mr Cummings hit back on Twitter today insisting there was no drinking culture at No10 in May 2020, and accusing Ms Khan of being a ‘useful idiot’ helping shore up Mr Johnson’s position

And MPs have returned from their constituencies reporting a beasting from voters on the doorstep and in mailbags. One Northern MP told MailOnline that the response was ‘terrible’, and even worse than during the notorious Barnard Castle row involving Mr Cummings.

‘It’s worse because he was breaking the rules that he himself made and told everyone to obey. He can relaunch, hide behind reports, do what he wants. The public have made their minds up,’ the Tory MP said.

Another said they were getting grief from ‘a good number of Tories and just ordinary people who don’t say their politics but feel compelled to write to say they want Boris to resign’. However, they voiced hope that the focus might finally be starting to shift to other stories.   



Source link

Back to top button