‘The most boring, badly attended party on earth’: Social media users mock Boris Johnson’s ‘damp squib’ rule-breaking No 10 birthday party as Sue Gray releases photos of PM stood next to a jug of orange juice and sandwiches
Social media users have today mocked Boris Johnson‘s rule-breaking Number 10 birthday party, saying the event looks like the ‘most boring party on earth’.
Newly released photographs from Sue Gray’s long-awaited report into Covid rule breaches at Downing Street show Boris Johnson raising a can of drink in the Cabinet office.
The photographs also show a small group of blurred-out Number 10 staff – as well as Rishi Sunak and senior civil servant Simon Case – standing around a table with a dozen supermarket sandwiches and some jugs of orange and apple juice.
Other images from another event, leaked ahead of today’s official report, shows the Prime Minister making a toast with a plastic cup while standing next to a table of empty alcohol bottles.
Mr Johnson is today facing calls to resign following the release of the Sue Gray, which slammed ‘excessive’ drinking at a slew of bashes in Downing Street and Whitehall – many of which broke lockdown rules.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today accused the Prime Minister of treating the country ‘with contempt’.
Mr Johnson today reiterated his apology and insisted he took ‘full responsibility’ for Partygate.
But he dismissed calls to resign, saying that the Government had ‘learned lessons’ and that he had been personally ‘humbled’ after being issued a fine.
Meanwhile, social media users took Twitter to mock the Prime Minister’s rule-breaking event following the release of the photographs, which they say made the party look ‘boring’.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘The most boring, badly attended party on earth.’ Another added: ‘Rubbish party… not worth going to.’
Newly released photographs from Sue Gray’s long-awaited report into Covid rule breaches at Downing Street show Boris Johnson raising a can of drink in the Cabinet office
One Twitter user, sharing the pictures, said: ‘Here is the actual party event. The dampest of squibs. Dull photo of a very dull event. For this FPNs were issued.’
Bella Wallersteiner, who works for a Conservative MP, wrote: ‘This reminds me of the lunch break during a speeder’s awareness course. Not a party.’
On Twitter use said: ‘Looks like a rubbish party.’ Another added: ‘The most criminal thing about the No.10 parties is how f***ng boring they look’.
It comes as Mr Johnson today insisted he takes ‘full responsibility’ for Partygate after Sue Gray gave a grim account of drunken antics at the heart of government.
Sue Gray’s Partygate findings at a glance
- The report found the ‘senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility’ for the culture of flouting Covid rules
- No10 private secretary Martin Reynolds was warned that a Bring Your Own Booze party on May 20, 2020 was ‘somewhat of a comms risk’. Mr Reynolds remarked afterwards that they seemed to have ‘got away with it’
- A raucous leaving do on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral lasted until 4:20am and spread into the garden, with the swing used by PM’s young son broken – although Mr Johnson was not present
- There were multiple examples of ‘unacceptable’ treatment of security and cleaning staff
- Former ethics chief Helen MacNamara provided a karaoke machine for a Cabinet Office leaving do on June 18, 2020
- There was a fight at the event on June 18 and someone was sick
- Mr Johnson joined five special advisers in a meeting with ‘food and alcohol’ in his No11 flat on November 13, 2020, after the announcement of Dominic Cummings’ departure
- Ms Gray said she had not looked into whether the so-called ‘Abba Party’ on that date breached lockdown
- Mr Johnson brought the cheese and wine pictured in a garden gathering on May 15 2020 from his flat, although it appears to have been a valid work event
The PM told MPs that the government had ‘learned our lesson’ and he personally was ‘humbled’ after being issued a fine – saying he ‘renewed my apology’.
But Mr Johnson also denied lying to Parliament about the breaches, arguing that leaving dos were needed to keep up ‘morale’ while people were ‘working hard’ and he was ‘proud’ of the efforts of staff.
Saying he wanted to ‘move on’, the premier told the House: ‘I take full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch.’
Mr Johnson was heckled as he said ‘the entire senior management has changed’, and Keir Starmer accused him of treating the country ‘with contempt’.
But the Labour leader was forced to deny he had broken the law as he was barracked over the ‘Beergate’ police investigation into an election campaign visit to Durham last year.
In her 37-page verdict, Ms Gray slammed ‘excessive’ drinking at a slew of bashes in Downing Street and Whitehall – many of which broke lockdown rules.
She describes how officials enjoyed karaoke, were sick in offices and even got into fights while the rest of the country was under harsh restrictions.
Ms Gray was particularly scathing about a raucous leaving party in Downing Street on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, when a child’s swing was broken by revellers. Mr Johnson was not present.
And former No10 principal private secretary Martin Reynolds was warned by colleagues that a notorious ‘BYOB’ bash in May 2020 was a bad idea – but remarked afterwards that they had ‘got away with’ the event.
However, there was limited direct criticism of Mr Johnson himself, with Dominic Cummings complaining that Ms Gray had let him off the hook by failing to investigate an alleged ‘Abba Party’ in his grace-and-favour flat.
Mr Johnson said staff had been working ‘extremely long hours’ and ‘doing their best’ to help the country in the pandemic, adding to MPs: ‘I appreciate this is no mitigation but it’s important to set out.’
He added: ‘I’m trying to set out the context, not to mitigate or to absolve myself in any way.
‘The exemption under which they were present in Downing Street includes those circumstances where officials and advisers were leaving the Government and it was appropriate to recognise and to thank them for the work they had done.
‘I briefly attended such gatherings to thank them for their service, which I believe is one of the essential duties of leadership and particularly important when people need to feel that their contributions have been appreciated and to keep morale as high as possible.’
Five other pictures are from a leaving do for spin doctor Lee Cain in November 2020, where Mr Johnson is shown making a toast in front of tables loaded with booze
As he was heckled, the PM said: ‘I’m trying to explain the reasons I was there. It’s clear from what Sue Gray had to say that some of these gatherings then went on far longer than was necessary and they were clearly in breach of the rules and they fell foul of the rules.’
Responding to allegations he deliberately misled Parliament, Mr Johnson said: ‘I have been as surprised and disappointed as anyone else in this House as the revelations have unfolded and, frankly, I have been appalled by some of the behaviour, particularly in the treatment of the security and the cleaning staff.
‘And I’d like to apologise to those members of staff and I expect anyone who behaved in that way to apologise to them as well.’
The report included nine photographs featuring Mr Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
Four are from the PM’s birthday ‘party’ in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 – over which he was fined along with wife Carrie and Mr Sunak. The politicians and Mr Case can be seen with a tray of sandwiches.
Five other pictures are from a leaving do for spin doctor Lee Cain in November 2020, where Mr Johnson is shown making a toast in front of tables loaded with booze.
The mandarin said in her conclusions: ‘The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.’
She said: ‘Whatever the initial intent, what took place at many of these gatherings and the way in which they developed was not in line with Covid guidance at the time.
After Sue Gray (right) concluded her report, Mr Johnson (left) told MPs that the government had ‘learned our lesson’ and he personally was ‘humbled’ after being issued a fine – saying he ‘renewed my apology’
‘Even allowing for the extraordinary pressures officials and advisers were under, the factual findings of this report illustrate some attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with that guidance.
‘It is also clear, from the outcome of the police investigation, that a large number of individuals (83) who attended these events breached Covid regulations and therefore Covid guidance.’
It is understood that Mr Case is not set to be sacked over the scandal, following rumours he could carry the can despite not being given an FPN himself.
Mr Johnson has drawn up ‘masochism strategy’ in a bid to defuse anger, giving a press conference after his statement to Parliament, and then addressing Conservative MPs this evening.
Ministers are hoping to shift the agenda on as swiftly as possible by announcing a fresh cost-of-living bailout as early as tomorrow that could be worth £10billion, part-funded by a windfall tax on surging profits at energy firms.