The email, from Johnson’s chief private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 employees to “social distancing drinks at No. 10” on May 20, 2020, and encouraged them to “bring (their) alcoholic drinks” and “make the most of the weather” The beautiful.”
At the time, strict lockdown restrictions were in place in England that prevented more than two people from meeting outdoors.
The revelation deepens a scandal over a series of allegedly rule-breaking parties held in and around Downing Street that has sparked public outrage, drowned Johnson’s Conservative Party in opinion polls and led to scrutiny of his position as prime minister.
“After an incredibly crowded period, it would be nice to make the most of the nice weather and have some social drinks in Park 10 this evening,” Reynolds said in the email, first reported by ITV News on Monday. “.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own liquor!” Email has been added.
A source working in Downing Street at the time confirmed the contents of the email independently to CNN.
Two-thirds (66%) of UK adults say Johnson should resign after allegations he attended the BYOB social meeting when England was under lockdown, according to a new poll by Savanta ComRes, published on Tuesday.
The poll found that four in 10 (42%) of those who said they voted for Johnson’s Conservative Party in the last election said he should resign. That represented a nine-point rise – from 33% – in people who said he should resign in December.
Hannah Brady, an activist with the Covid-19 group Bereaved Families for Justice, said her father died of the virus four days before the email was sent. “Back then, everyone knew that going to a party was a mistake, so how can those running the country think it’s okay?” she said in a statement.
“Thinking that while this was happening Boris Johnson was making the most of the weather and throwing a party for 100, it’s really unbelievable,” she added. Could there be a more shameful example of ‘a rule for them, another rule for us’?
The mixing of families at that time was limited to two people, who could only meet outdoors and at a distance of at least two meters (6.5 feet). In workplaces, official directives state that in-person meetings should only take place if they are “absolutely necessary”.
Johnson declined to respond to reports that he and his wife, Carrie Johnson, attended the event when a journalist pressed him on Monday, saying only: “This, you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.”
Gray, a senior government employee, is tasked with investigating the alleged parties. She took on the role after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case was removed from investigation, after he was revealed to have learned of a party held in his private constituency.
The Secretary of State for Health, Edward Argar, also sidestepped questions on the issue on Tuesday. “I don’t know what happened or didn’t happen,” Argar told Britain’s Sky News. “All I saw were reports and email that was reported yesterday and various sources reported by different media and press.”
“That is why it would be right for this matter to be considered independently by Sue Gray, and therefore it would be wrong for me to comment.”
But Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labor Party, said on Tuesday: “Boris Johnson, your perversions and perversions are ridiculous.”
“Not only did she know about the parties in Downing Street, she attended them,” Starmer added. “Stop lying to the British public. It’s finally time for cleanliness.”
The Metropolitan Police, which has been criticized for refusing to investigate any of the reported parties, said it was “in contact with the Cabinet Office” about the event.
Johnson faced multiple allegations that social events were held within 10 Downing Street in the spring of 2020 and the lead-up to Christmas that year, when local restrictions prevented such gatherings.
When these questions began, Johnson dismissed them by saying that no parties were held and that his staff and aides had followed the rules at all times. But since then, a torrent of allegations and leaks have shed light on several alleged gatherings.
A Downing Street spokesperson responded to the photo, saying: “Business meetings are often held in Downing Street Park in the summer months. On this occasion, there were staff meetings following the 10th press conference.”
Meanwhile, a video of employees joking about a “Christmas party” in December 2020 that “wasn’t socially far” led to the resignation of Allegra Stratton, one of Johnson’s closest aides.
CNN confirmed last month that social gatherings did indeed take place on December 18, 2020, as well as on November 27 of that year, and confirmed a Daily Mirror report that Johnson himself delivered an impromptu speech at the latter.
The Mirror published a separate photo of Johnson hosting a Christmas test party in Downing Street that allegedly broke Covid-19 restrictions. “The Prime Minister actually briefly participated in a short quiz to thank the staff for their hard work throughout the year,” a spokesperson said.
Public outrage prompted Johnson to call for an investigation. On Monday, the prime minister did not say whether he had actually given an interview.
In response to the email reports, Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and Shadow Adviser to the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “Boris Johnson has consistently shown that he does not respect the rules he sets for the rest of us…”
“He’s trying to get officials to take responsibility for his mistakes, but he’s setting the tone for the way Downing Street and the rest of government operate,” she added.
CNN London correspondent Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.