Labour Challenges Prime Minister To "Come Clean" On Downing Street "BYOB" Party
Boris Johnson will be in a "very, very difficult" situation if he is found to have broken the rules by attending a lockdown-breaking Downing Street garden party in May, a senior Labour figure has predicted.
Ed Miliband, the Shadow Climate and Net Zero Secretary, said the Prime Minister had to "come clean" after a bombshell email leaked to ITV on Monday night showed Johnson's Private Secretary Martin Reynolds inviting 100 staff to a "bring your own booze" party in the Downing Street garden.
The report says around 40 staff ended up gathering in the garden on 20 May — including Johnson and his wife, Carrie.
Reynolds described the event as "socially distanced drinks" to "make the most of the lovely weather" after what had been "an incredibly busy period". At the time, lockdown restrictions meant people could meet just one other person outdoors.
Miliband has now called on Johnson to clarify whether he attendeed the party. "We are going to take this one step at a time and that's why I've said he's got to come clean. He's got to explain himself and not hide behind inquiries," he told BBC Breakfast.
The former Labour leader believed it would be hard for the Prime Minister to remain in post if he is found guilty – either in an investigation into Downing Street parties by senior Whitehall figure, Sue Gray, or the Metropolitan Police – of having breached strict lockdown rules.
"His position is going to be very, very difficult if it gets to the position where he has broken the rules and potentially broken the law on this incredibly serious matter so fragrantly," he said.
"We should be in no doubt about how grave the situation is in relation to the integrity of the person who is leading the country."
Health Minister Ed Argar refused to engage with details of the allegations in several broadcast interviews this morning, repeatedly saying he did not want to "pre-judge" the ongoing investigation into various Downing Street parties being carried out by Gray.
"We don't know the facts and that's what Sue Gray is going to be looking at," Argar told Sky News' Kay Burley.
"She will follow the facts and report what she finds, and it's important that we let her do that job."
The minister insisted it was a "leap of faith" to claim that Johnson, who lives in Downing Street, was in attendance, despite multiple sources telling ITV and other publications that he was there.
The Metropolitan Police last night confirmed it was looking into this latest relevation, having previously said there was insufficient evidence to investigate seperate allegations of rule-breaking parties.
"The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on 20 May 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office," a spokesperson said.
The Prime Minister also faces accusations of lying to Parliament, with opposition MPs pointing to his House of Commons statement on 10 December in which he said he said "there was no party".
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Attorney General, last night escalated Labour's attack on the Prime MInister, saying Johnson had "simply lied" to MPs last month.
The Labour MP told Newsnight: "He should make a better attempt at trying to explain himself.
"The previous times when he's tried to explain himself, he has simply lied. So he has to come forward and tell us what the truth is."
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