Boris Johnson’s premiership was plunged deeper into crisis on Monday after it emerged that he had a birthday party during England’s first lockdown in 2020, despite Covid rules at the time banning indoor social gatherings.
Johnson has consistently denied knowledge of parties in Downing Street, but he attended a surprise get-together in the cabinet room to celebrate his birthday in June of that year, along with up to 30 guests.
The disclosure of the Downing Street celebration, first reported by ITV News and confirmed by the FT, will fuel concerns among Tory MPs that the prime minister disregarded Covid rules that he imposed on the rest of England.
When the gathering took place pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and non-essential shops were closed, while outdoor gatherings were limited to the rule of six. Schools also remained closed to most pupils.
“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” said one former cabinet minister. “For those who haven’t made their mind up this is surely the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Andrew Bridgen, one of seven Tory MPs to publicly demand that Johnson quits.
One senior Tory said it was “inevitable” more MPs would demand a no-confidence vote in Johnson by submitting letters to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs. A member of the 1922 executive said the latest revelations were “fatal”.
The account of the latest event comes as Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, finalises her report into alleged parties in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.
Read more on Downing Street’s latest lockdown party allegation here