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Downing Street 'held wine-time Fridays EVERY week' throughout the pandemic


Downing Street held 'wine-time Fridays' every week throughout the pandemic which Boris Johnson attended, with staff even investing in a £142 drinks fridge to keep their beer, prosecco and wine cold, it has been claimed.

Government aides were encouraged by the prime minister, who regularly oversaw the gatherings, to 'let off steam' at the regular drinks which would often continue until the early hours, at a time when Britons were banned from socialising indoors, sources told The Mirror.

Staff took turns to stock up on drinks at the local Tesco Metro with a wheely suitcase to fill up the 34-bottle fridge which was delivered through the back door of Downing Street on December 11, 2020, extraordinary pictures have revealed.

At the time, households were not allowed to mix indoors or in most outdoor places with exemptions for people in support bubbles, and a maximum of six people were allowed to meet in some outdoor public spaces like parks and public gardens.

Despite the harsh rules, Downing Street scheduled 'wine-time Fridays' into the electronic calendars of 50 No 10 staff every week between 4pm and 7pm.

One Downing Street insider told The Times: 'It was a culture of 3am sessions. People used to sleep off their hangovers in the buildings overnight on sofas and in the mornings there were empty drinks on the desks that the cleaners had to pick up. There was a culture of boozing.'

The end-of-week drinks are part of a long-standing tradition in government but they reportedly continued while the rest of the country were mostly confined to their homes.

They were organised by the No 10 press office but advisors from other departments would often join in, it has been claimed.

It is just the latest in a series of damning revelations about the alleged culture of drinking and partying throughout the pandemic at Downing Street amid growing calls for Mr Johnson to resign, some from within his own party.

It was revealed on Thursday that a leaving do was held on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, prompting Mr Johnson to order No 10 to apologise to the Queen.

Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating the litany of claims, is said to have been 'completely blindsided' by the latest revelations, The Times reported.

Meanwhile cabinet ministers who publicly backed their leader this week said it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify their support, with one saying: 'This is the last chance saloon. More revelations of parties, and a pummelling at the local elections, and the party will rise up.'

A dozen Tory MPs have now criticised the prime minister publicly, while another in a red wall constituency ran a Facebook poll asking if he should go and a senior party activist said he wished to 'never hear of him again'. Regardless, it appears voters have made up their minds, with seven out of ten believing Mr Johnson has not been telling the truth about his involvement in the BYOB garden party while 63 per cent said he should resign, a poll has revealed. Eight in ten also believe the event was illegal according to the PM's own Covid legislation. A 34-bottle drinks fridge (pictured right) was delivered by a delivery driver (left) through the back door of Downing Street on December 11, 2020, while indoor socialising was banned. He is not a government worker Kate Josephs, who was a director general in the unit that coordinated the government response and is now chief executive at Sheffield City Council A Downing Street official called the Palace to apologise for the latest revelations about a party on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, but aides refused to say whether Mr Johnson - who was not at the booze-fuelled event - would be speaking to the monarch personally about the issue. Pictured, one of the PM's weekly audiences with the Queen in June last year

Downing Street staff allegedly boozed 'excessively' at two leaving parties the night before the Queen was forced to grieve alone her own at the Duke of Edinburgh's Covid-secure funeral last year

The swing in the Downing Street garden used by Mr Johnson's son Wilf (circled) is believed to have been broken amid high jinks at the leaving do This afternoon Kate Josephs, who headed the Cabinet Office unit drawing up Covid restrictions and is now chief executive at Sheffield City Council, apologised for her own leaving do on December 17 A leaked photo showed Boris and Carrie Johnson with 17 senior Downing Street staff, sitting around cheese and wine.


This took place during the first Covid lockdown at a time when only two people from different households could mix outdoors, socially distanced A bombshell email from Mr Johnson's principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 staff to No10's lavish gardens on May 20 to 'make the most of the lovely weather'. He told guests to bring their own alcohol The PM allegedly made a leaving speech for his director of communications Lee Cain with a number of people gathered.


The party is believed to have carried on upstairs that evening after Dominic Cummings unceremoniously walked out of Downing Street carrying a cardboard box. Mr Johnson reportedly gives a speech at a packed leaving do for a 'senior aide'. '40 or 50 people' were present. The aide was named as one newspaper as Cleo Watson, Dominic Cummings' protégé. Pictures obtained by the Sunday Mirror show Mr Johnson on a TV screen flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in the No10 library. A source claimed many staff were huddled by computers in their Downing Street offices, conferring on questions and drinking alcohol while the quiz was taking place. The Mirror said a message sent by No10's head of HR on the night of the quiz advised that those who had stayed behind to take part 'go out the back' when they left. The paper also unearthed the team names used that night, including 'Professor Quiz Whitty',

'Rebels without a Claus', and 'Hands, Face, First Place'.

Advisers and civil servants drank alcohol and danced in No10’s basement and gardens to mark the departure of Boris Johnson’s press chief James Slack and one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers. Witnesses claimed 30 people attended the two gatherings, which were held in different parts of the Downing Street complex before combining in the garden, on the night before Prince Philip's funeral.

May 26, 2021: A second, formal leaving event is held for James Slack inside No 10. More than a dozen allegedly attended. Kate Josephs, who was a director general in the unit that coordinated the government Covid response and is now chief executive at Sheffield City Council, said she was 'truly sorry' for a gathering held in the Cabinet Office to mark her leaving the civil service on December 17, 2020.

Kate Josephs, who was a director general in the unit that coordinated the government response and is now chief executive at Sheffield City Council

Ms Josephs said she and colleagues who had been working assembled for drinks in the evening. Dozens of staff are reported to have attended - even though London was in Tier 3 lockdown at the time and the rules prohibited households socialising indoors.

Earlier, the PM's spokesman admitted an apology had been made to Buckingham Palace over 'regrettable' behaviour in Downing Street on April 16 last year - when two other leaving dos took place, including for departing director of communications James Slack. The lockdown rules at that point banned indoor social mixing.

However, it is understood an official made the grovelling call, and aides refused to say whether Mr Johnson - who was not at the booze-fuelled event - will be speaking to the monarch personally about the issue.

All three leaving events have now been referred to Sue Gray's investigation, which is not expected to report before the end of next week.

One of the regular attendees at the Friday drinks is said to be Mr Johnson's defence advisor Captain Steve Higham, who now commands the HMS Prince of Wales.

Sources said the weekly drinks often carried on until midnight with up to two dozen aides drinking and playing games including Pictionary.

The drinks were especially popular between autumn 2020 and spring 2021 after staff became 'fatigued' with the Covid measures, it has been claimed.

But when socialising recommenced after the easing of the rules, the popularity of the weekly government drinks faded, with staff no longer having to rely on them for their Friday night revelry, sources said.

The prime minister allegedly attended a 'handful' of the weekly drinks, including one on November 13, 2020, the day Dominic Cummings left No 10.

Then, England was in a second national lockdown but Mr Johnson stayed with colleagues for a glass of wine and a chat.

A source said: 'Boris used to stop by for a chat while they had a drink. It was on the way up to his flat and the door was usually open. He knew about it and encouraged it.'

Mr Johnson will look to move on from so-called partygate by lifting Plan B measures, such as the guidance to work from home, at the end of the month, the Telegraph reported.

The restrictions, which were designed to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, are due to expire on January 26, subject to a review.

Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove hinted that there could be sackings as part of a shake-up at the top of Government, but rejected a suggestion that Mr Johnson should be one of those to go.

For the leaving party held in April 16, the night before Prince Philip's funeral, England was in step two of the government's roadmap, meaning there was a strict ban on any indoor gatherings of different households, and the limit was six people outdoors.


Downing Street staff allegedly boozed 'excessively' at two leaving parties the night before the Queen was forced to grieve alone her own at the Duke of Edinburgh's Covid-secure funeral last year


A Downing Street official called the Palace to apologise for the latest revelations about a party on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, but aides refused to say whether Mr Johnson - who was not at the booze-fuelled event - would be speaking to the monarch personally about the issue. Pictured, one of the PM's weekly audiences with the Queen in June last year

The swing in the Downing Street garden used by Mr Johnson's son Wilf (circled) is believed to have been broken amid high jinks at the leaving do





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