'Parties at 10 Downing St Were Packed': Insiders on Britain's Partygate Scandal
An insider revealed that PM Boris Johnson did not object to the parties; rather, he 'grabbed a glass himself'.
Insiders who attended alleged parties at 10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's official residence, during the COVID-19 lockdown in the country said that there was a lot of crowd during the parties, and that some people even sat on others' laps.
Insiders were reported as saying by the BBC that they arrived for work on the morning after an alleged party to find bottles lying around in different parts of the building, and dustbins filled with filth to the brim.
Some of the parties ran so late into the night that people actually stayed over at Downing Street, insiders added.
They further said that the staff mocked those who attempted to put a stop to the alleged parties.
These revelations come a day before senior civil servant Sue Gray is scheduled to submit a report on the alleged parties at Downing Street during the lockdown period.
'People Stood Shoulder-to-Shoulder'
Last week, the Metropolitan Police had finished its investigation into the matter, and had issued 126 fines in this regard, including one against PM Johnson for attending a birthday party in June 2020.
The prime minister is also facing a barrage of questions after pictures were released by ITV News showing Johnson raising a toast at an alleged party in November 2020.
Speaking about the party, one of the insiders said, "There were about 30 people, if not more, in a room. Everyone was stood shoulder to shoulder, some people on each other's lap," BBC reported.
Three insiders also said that lockdown rules were routinely ignored in Downing Street, socialising was very common, and everything was going on with the PM's permission.
Asked to Leave by Security
At another party held on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral on 16 April last year, the atmosphere was one of a "lively event", with people "dancing around", BBC reported a source as saying.
The party at one time became so loud that security personnel told people to leave the building at once and take the party to the grounds instead. "So everyone grabbed all the drinks, the food, everything, and went into the garden. We all sat around the tables drinking. People stayed the night there."
Insiders also said that events took place routinely during the lockdown. "They were every week. The event invites for Friday press office drinks were just nailed into the diary."
Another insider claimed that a security guard at Downing Street was mocked when he tried to put a stop to a party.
"I remember when a custodian tried to stop it all and he was just shaking his head in this party, being like, 'This shouldn't be happening'," the insider said, adding that people were making fun of him because he was so "worked up".
On being asked why such parties took place, one of the insiders said, "We saw it as our own bubble, where the rules didn't apply. Everything just continued as normal. Social distancing didn't happen. We didn't wear face masks. It wasn't like the outside world."
'Johnson Didn't Object to the Parties, Grabbed a Glass Himself'
An insider said that they felt they had PM Johnson's permission to conduct the parties, even if it broke the rules.
"He may have just been popping through on the way to his flat because that's what would happen. He wasn't there saying this shouldn't be happening," one of the insiders said.
They added that the prime minister did not ask anybody to maintain social distance or put on their masks; rather, he was "grabbing a glass for himself".
PM Johnson had apologised on 19 April for attending an illegal party during the COVID-19 lockdown in the country, even as the Opposition demanded that he quit for the sake of integrity in politics.
However, Johnson said he did not think he had done anything wrong when he attended an office gathering for his birthday in June 2020.
On 12 April, Johnson was fined 50 pounds, thus becoming the first British leader to be fined for breaking the law. Additionally, the police also investigated several other parties in government buildings that Johnson allegedly attended.
Johnson had also refused to resign earlier this year, even after facing renewed calls to do the "decent thing" and quit over the scandal.
(With inputs from BBC.)
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