The Tories are finally in freefall as Labour, rising in the polls, has gone on the offensive accusing Boris Johnson of lying about a series of Downing Street “bring your own booze parties” in the gardens of power during 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic where 1,000s of ordinary people were under tough lockdown conditions which included the banning of groups from meeting socially outdoors. At one stage more than 100 Downing Street employees were invited to a knees up. Leader of Labour controlled Bridgwater Town Council Brian Smedley (Bridgwater Westover) said “Same old Tory, one rule for us and another for them. 70,000 people died of Covid in 2020. 458 of them were across Somerset and whilst 108 people died here in Sedgemoor a similar number were invited to a Downing Street drinks party in clear violation of the rules that everyone else was abiding by. What blatant contempt. People have stopped laughing along with Boris, now every time he opens his mouth they just laugh AT what comes out.”
Labour released a list of statements in the Commons that it argued showed the PM had repeatedly lied to the House. They include repeated claims from Mr Johnson that “guidelines were observed” in No 10. The “bring your own booze” garden party is the latest in a dozen alleged parties and gatherings in 2020 held by top government figures which appear to break Covid rules imposed on the rest of the country. Others include a cabinet office “Christmas party” on December 17 and another in Downing Street on December 18
Boris Johnson, at Prime Minister’s Question Time today, has now admitted that he was at a party during the lockdown, that he ‘recognised the rage’ and ‘regretted it’ and as a result faced calls to quit from across the House of Commons and even from his own side. Johnson admitted that the rules were ‘not being followed by those who made the rules’.
AT PMQs Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer directly confronted the Prime minster and said: “There we have it. After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road. His defence…that he ‘didn’t realise he was at a party’ is so ridiculous that it’s actually offensive to the British public. He’s finally been forced to admit what everyone knew, that when the whole country was locked down he was hosting boozing parties in Downing Street. Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign? The party’s over Prime Minister!”
Johnson struggled to joke or bluff his way out of it this time and basically pleaded with MPs to wait for the enquiry now under way to conclude before making up their minds. This was described by Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC as a ‘non apology apology’.
Somerset Labour Anger
The anger has swept across the country and here in Somerset Labour voices added to this.
Deputy Leader of Bridgwater Town Council and Sedgemoor Labour Group, Cllr Kath Pearce (Bridgwater Westover, Labour) said “It’s an absolute disgrace that the Prime Minister acted in such a cavalier way when families were being torn apart by one of the highest rate of Covid deaths in Europe at that time. It’s always been one rule for him and another for the rest of us. And, still, he fails to take full responsibility. Enough, it’s time for him to go”.
Councillor Terry Ledlie (Yeovil, Labour) said, “Local people have worked hard to play their full part in combatting the spread of the virus, no matter how hard it has been. They have a right to expect that the Prime Minister will lead by example. Sadly, Boris Johnson has let us down so badly that His position is now untenable. Every day that he remains in office now hinders our efforts to beat the virus.
Cllr Mick Lerry (Bridgwater Victoria, Labour) said: “Well the truth is finally out, the Prime Minister has now admitted that he was at the party, while the rest of the UK were following rules set by Government. Boris Johnson has tried to dodge the issue when questioned, in the hope that somehow the problem would go away. Boris has now apologised , but he is still trying to make out that he did not breach the rules at the time.”
Mick continued “When is a “party not a party”, when Boris Johnson wants to continue the deceitful approach he has shown for the British public His behaviour has blown “trust away” from the important office he holds as Prime Minister. Ordinary people have followed the rules and regulations, laid down by the Government, to such a degree, that they have been left with awful decisions to make about people close to them, who have lost their lives to covid. At the same time Boris has asked Conservative MPs to front the media in his defence. Boris has encouraged Conservative MPs to cover up for the way he has tried to deceive Parliament and the people of the United Kingdom. Boris will also continue to do this as he tries to escape from the truth. It is not just Boris who you cannot trust; but, the many Tory MPs and Government Ministers who have paraded themselves in front of the media to keep and preserve the Prime Minster’s behaviour of double-dealing and dishonesty. Boris now has to stand down as Prime Minister, if he has any integrity for the important office he holds”.
Chair of Bridgwater Branch Labour Party, Irena Hubble-Brezowski said “Corruption, corruption and more corruption. Fancy words and twists on whether it was a party or a meeting. Many MPs have a legal background but even Johnson’s loyalist supporters must be finding it hard to find yet more weasel words to justify what went on. And while this pantomime goes on, we are being told the pandemic is over. It is not true. They are preparing to charge for LFTs, charge pensioners for prescriptions and more. This Party is over . Time is up.”
Labour members are calling on the County’s Tory MPs to condemn Boris Johnson’s actions and to join Scottish Tory Leader Douglas Ross in calling for the Prime Minister’s immediate departure and William Wragg, vice chair of the 1922 committee who said fellow MPs were ‘frankly worn out from defending what is invariably indefensible.”