Ex-aide speaks out on long-standing Downing Street drinking culture

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

  • Ex-aide Sonia Khan has spoken about long-standing drinking culture in No10
  • She said staff sometimes started at lunchtime and slept on sofas in their clothes
  • Speculation that Boris Johnson could impose a ban on alcohol to ease backlash  
  • 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 – 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. 

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    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.