Politics

Downing Street apologises to Queen for party before Philip’s funeral in bid to save face

Boris Johnson: Thornberry demands PM offer Queen his resignation

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No10 contacted the Palace after it emerged that staff had held two separate leaving drinks on April 16 2020. Last night it was claimed suitcases full of alcohol were wheeled into the Downing Street building for the parties that took place when the country was still banned from meeting those from other households indoors.

The country was also still in a period of national mourning following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh one week earlier.

The latest revelations have sparked outrage across the country, with many contrasting the behaviour of those in No10 on the Friday night with the behaviour of Her Majesty on the Saturday, who was forced to sit alone in a scaled-back church service for her husband of 73 years.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No10 has apologised to the Palace.

“You heard from the PM this week, he’s recognised No 10 should be held to the highest standards, and take responsibility for things we did not get right.”

The events on April 16 are the latest to be included in an investigation being carried out by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, into allegations of illegal gatherings in Government during the pandemic.

No10 said the apology to the Palace was not made personally by Boris Johnson but refused to go into details of the exact nature of the conversation saying it would be wrong to comment before ms Gray finished her report.

The spokesman said: “The Prime Minister said earlier misjudgments have been made and it’s right people apologise, as the PM did earlier this week.

“It remains the case that I can’t prejudge the inquiry, which you know is ongoing, which has been led by Sue Gray, but we acknowledge the significant public anger, it was regrettable this took place a time of national mourning.”

No date has been set for Ms Gray to complete her report by but it has been claimed she was set to present her findings by the end of next week.

The latest allegations risk delaying the findings while more information is gathered.

The Prime Minister was not at either of the gatherings on April 16 as he had already left Downing Street to spend the weekend at Chequers, his official country estate.

Anger at the Government has intensified in recent days as more and more allegations of rule-breaking in No10 have emerged.

On Wednesday Mr Johnson was forced to apologise in the Commons after admitting he attended a “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020, during the first coronavirus lockdown.

However, he insisted he believed it was a work event and could “technically” have been within the rules.

Following today’s apology to the Palace, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has renewed his demand for Mr Johnson to resign.

He said: “This shows just how seriously Boris Johnson has degraded the office of Prime Minister.

“The Conservatives have let Britain down.

“An apology isn’t the only thing the Prime Minister should be offering the Palace today.

“Boris Johnson should do the decent thing and resign.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey echoed the words of Sir Keir, calling on Mr Johnson to personally apologise to Her Majesty.

“Boris Johnson should apologise personally to the Queen for the offence he’s caused her and millions around the country mourning for loved ones,” he said.

“He should also use that opportunity to officially hand in his resignation.”

Pressure has also been mounting on Mr Johnosn from his own backbench MPs, with letters of no confidence in his leadership being submitted.

Veteran MP Sir Roger Gale said the gatherings were “wholly unacceptable” and confirmed he had formally submitted a letter calling on Mr Johnson to go.

Last night Andrew Bridgen, who supported Mr Johnson when he ran to replace Theresa May, also confirmed he had written to committee chairman of the Conservative party’s 1922 committee that organises leadership votes.

He said: “With a heavy heart I have written a letter to Sir Graham Brady indicating that I have no confidence in the Prime Minister.”

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