UK

Tory MPs criticise photos of PM at lockdown drinks ahead of Sue Gray report

Tory MPs have criticised photos of Boris Johnson drinking with colleagues during lockdown ahead of the Sue Gray report into parties being published.

New pictures emerged on Monday of the prime minister appearing to toast colleagues allegedly during the second national lockdown when people were not allowed to mix with other households inside.

The photos, obtained by ITV News, are of a gathering said to have taken place on 13 November 2020 for a leaving do for the PM’s then-communications chief Lee Cain.

They emerged in the week after the Met Police investigation into the parties concluded with 126 fines for 83 people, including the PM, and ahead of the report into more events by top civil servant Sue Gray.

Her report is set to be published this week.

People who were involved in the 13 November gathering have confirmed to Sky News fines were issued by the Met to some people in attendance, but not the PM.

The photos have attracted fresh criticism of the PM and the government during the pandemic, with several Tory MPs voicing their opinions publicly.

More on Boris Johnson

Read more: Details of the Met Police investigation into partygate – and which events were people fined for

ITV handout photo dated 13/11/20 of a photograph obtained by ITV News of the Prime Minister raising a glass at a leaving party on 13th November 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him. Issue date: Monday May 23, 2022.
Image:
Pic: ITV News
ITV handout photo dated 13/11/20 of a photograph obtained by ITV News of the Prime Minister raising a glass at a leaving party on 13th November 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him. Issue date: Monday May 23, 2022.
Image:
Pic: ITV News

Senior Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat said the photos shows a lack of “seriousness” at the top of government in its attitude towards the pandemic.

He told Sky News: “It’s very difficult to look at those photographs because they don’t give the impression of seriousness that I think we really need in our country.

“We know that Number 10 was working hard. Of course, they were and they were doing all they could.

“But we also know that people were working incredibly hard in hospitals and care homes and across our country.

“We know that teachers were turning up to work and making sure that people could get kids education when they were essential workers.

“We know that many people were turning up at times when they were extremely worried.

“And I’m afraid this doesn’t show the level of seriousness that we really need in government.”

‘Clear there was a party’

Veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said it was “absolutely clear that there was a party” and that the PM was there.

He accused the PM of misleading parliament by denying a party had taken place.

Mr Johnson was asked on 8 December 2021 if there was a party in Downing Street on that day, to which he said: “No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”

Baroness Davidson, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said it was clear the PM had lied to parliament and his position was untenable.

“There is now photographic evidence that when the prime minister stood up in parliament and was asked directly was there a party in No 10 on this date and he replied ‘no’, he lied to Parliament,” she told Channel 4 News.

“I don’t think his job is tenable and his position is tenable. The office of prime minister should be above being traduced by the person who holds it.”

And current Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross demanded an explanation of why the PM thinks his behaviour was “acceptable” when most will think the pictures “seem unjustifiable and wrong”.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “The Cabinet Office and the Met Police have had access to all information relevant to their investigations, including photographs.

“The Met have concluded their investigation and Sue Gray will publish her report in the coming days, at which point the prime minister will address parliament in full.”

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