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Boris tries to host another party in 'desperate' bid to win friends – but MPs decline


Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists no coronavirus lockdown rules were broken last year after reports claimed Christmas parties were held in Downing Street while the rest of the nation cancelled plans and went into deep lockdown. Now, it has emerged the PM tried to host yet another get together at Number 10 this week, with MPs declining the invitation over “absolutely inappropriate” timing.

The report, first published in The Mirror, claimed Downing Street staff hosted two raucous parties during lockdown last winter.

The Prime Minister is said to have attended one of these and allegedly remarked on how packed it was.

According to witnesses, the parties included games and when into the wee hours, though one attendee told the BBC the “mood was down” with concern building over the second wave.

Mr Johnson hasn’t denied the parties took place but insisted “all guidance was followed”.

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This week, The Mirror reported the Prime Minister had tried yet again to win favour by hosting a drinks reception on Tuesday, with that newspaper calling him “desperate”.

Numerous MPs are said to have declined the invitation, deeming it “inappropriate” to attend a drinks reception when fresh Covid measures have just been put in place due to concern over the Omicron variant.

Some are said to have worried they might be photographed leaving the boozy bash.

The reception is believed to be an attempt to mend fences amongst his party, with Mr Johnson suffering heavily in the polls in recent weeks over the sleaze scandal and the embarrassment caused by his rambling CBI speech.

But some on the guest list were even more enraged by the offer.

According to the Telegraph, one MP, Andrew Bridgen, wrote to Mr Johnson’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, Tory MP Sarah Dines, over the matter.

He wrote: “Unfortunately I find myself unable to support the Government’s response to the emergence of the Omicron variant given the restrictions being introduced, due to the Government’s increased concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19, which could result in fines on the general public and our children if they do not comply.

“In these circumstances, I feel it would be absolutely inappropriate for me to attend the drinks reception arranged at No 10 for this evening.”

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Others expressed dismay at the fact no one invited to the party was asked to wear a mask, given the new Covid rules re-instating mask-wearing in crowded places.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said he was “not aware of any special requests” for people attending the drinks to wear masks, or to take lateral flow tests before arriving.

But while this week’s social gathering might not be against the rules, the two that allegedly took place in December 2020 would have been in direct violation of Covid restrictions – and anger over this isn’t going away.

The allegations centre around two events: a leaving party on November 27, and a staff party on 18 December.

London was placed under Tier 3 lockdown restrictions on December 14 last year, after which time people were not allowed to mix indoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble, seeing Christmas plans ruined for millions across the nation.

Mr Johnson is not said to have attended the December 18 bash, but is believed to have been at the “packed” November 27 leaving party – said to have been for Cleo Watson, a former aide to Dominic Cummings who himself caused a furore by breaching lockdown rules.

At Prime Minister’s Questions this week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Does the Prime Minister really expect the country to believe that while people were banned from seeing their loved ones at Christmas last year, it was fine for him and his friends to throw a boozy party in Downing Street?”

He accused the PM of “taking the British public for fools”.

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