Dominic Raab Claims Boris Johnson Wearing A Suit Proves There Wasn't A No.10 Garden Party
An image showing Boris Johnson, his family, and multiple staff gathered in the 10 Downing Street garden doesn't portray Covid rule-breaking because the Prime Minister can be seen wearing a suit, Dominic Raab has insisted.
The picture, published by The Guardian on Sunday night, shows Johnson, his wife and up to 17 members of staff sharing cheese and wine in the Downing Street garden on Friday, 15 May 2020, when strict social distancing rules limited people to meeting only one person from other households outdoors, and keeping a two metre distance.
It is the latest in a string of revelations about social events held by government and Conservative party figures during last year's Covid restrictions. The stories, particularly those of parties in Downing Street in the run-up to last Christmas, have led to a sharp drop in support for the Tories in the polls.
A Downing Street spokesperson insisted that the event captured in this latest picture was a "work meeting," The Guardian reported.
Raab, the Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, also sought to dismiss suggestions of rule breaking, arguing on Monday morning that the Downing Street garden was "fundamentally" a place of work where staff would sometimes "have a drink after the formal business has ended".
He said this was proven by the Downing Street staff being pictured "all in suits, or predominantly in formal attire" and the fact that "the Prime Minister is in a suit".
"10 Downing Street and the garden are used for work," Raab told Sky News's Kay Burley.
"The Prime Minister was there after the press conference he had just done, and folk at home will remember the daily press conferences, and he'd had meetings earlier in the day with the Health Secretary. You can see staff there, so it's fundamentally a place of work."
Raab also tried to dismiss suggestions that the presence of the Prime Minister's wife, Carrie Johnson, at the gathering suggested it wasn't a work meeting.
"He [Johnson] has got a very young family and if you begrudge his wife coming down in a break from the business of the day, I don't think that's right," he said.
Labour MP Chris Bryant was one of many people to point out that the number of people pictured in the garden was more than were allowed to attend funerals at the time, due to stringent Covid rules.
Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, last night said the picture was a "slap in the face of the British public".
She said: "The prime minister consistently shows us he has no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us. Alleged drinking and partying late into the evening when the rest of us were only recently getting one daily walk.”
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