Ian Blackford clashes with host on call for Johnson to resign
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The SNP’s Westminster leader has called on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign over an alleged lockdown-breaking “bring-your-own-booze” party in the Downing Street garden. Mr Blackford, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, made his demand on the BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ last night ahead of his appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions today. He urged Mr Johnson to “come clean” after it was revealed that more than 100 people had been invited to a party at Number 10 in May 20, 2020 when the country was still subject to strict Covid measures.
An email from Mr Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds told staff to bring their own alcohol to the evening event.
Following the revelations, the Metropolitan Police said it was speaking to the Government about “widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches” of the measures to contain the spread of the virus.
While Mr Blackford has been a fierce critic of the Government over the past two years, his wife Anne has also piled in on the Conservatives over Covid
The SNP politician’s partner, who largely stays out of the media spotlight, waded into a row about continuation of the tier system of restrictions in late 2020.
At the time, Mr Johnson had told backbench Tories who wanted to scrap the tier system he did not want to get rid of them ahead of Christmas.
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Anne said in a tweet: “Find it baffling that Tory Westminster MPs are unwilling to support the tier system.
“Covid does not discriminate and, although the elderly and poor are more likely to pay the ultimate price, the business community will not be immune.”
The pressure on Mr Johnson was again ratcheted up this week after ITV published an email from Mr Reynolds about the alleged May 2020 party.
The civil servant, who is in charge of Mr Johnson’s office, wrote in his invitation for the event: “Hi all.
“After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”
Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson were reported to have been joined by 40 staff at the gathering.
The Prime Minister’s former chief advisor Dominic Cummings also wrote about the alleged May 2020 party in a recent blog post.
The ex-aide claimed he had warned against the socially distanced drinks as it “seemed to be against the rules”.
At the time the event was reported to be held, people in England were only allowed to meet one person outside.
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The latest party scandal comes after a string of other reports that staff attended events in Downing Street in contravention of Covid measures.
Last month, The Guardian published an image of Mr and Mrs Johnson sitting with two other people at a table with a cheese board and wine in the Downing Street garden.
The picture was said to have been taken around May 15, 2020, while England was still under lockdown measures.
Speaking about the revelations this week, Mr Blackford told ‘Newsnight’ on Tuesday that there is “a stench of sleaze and corruption about this Government”.
He said Mr Johnson should “come clean and admit whether he attended, or was aware of, this Covid rule-breaking party in his own back garden”.
He said: “People will find it utterly outrageous that while the rest of us were banned from public gatherings, the most powerful people in the Tory Government were boozing up at No 10 Downing Street – proving, yet again, that it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”
He added: “He should be resigning tonight and if he doesn’t do that, Conservative MPs need to be holding him to account.”
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