Boris Johnson told public to ‘report Animal House parties’ before own scandal
Boris Johnson apology: Host clashes with voters on party
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Yesterday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Mr Johnson to resign after the Prime Minister admitted to having held the “bring your own booze” get-together in the Downing Street garden. While facing brutal scrutiny at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “Though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry I have learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility.” Mr Johnson claimed that he went into his garden during the UK’s first and most stringent lockdown to join groups of staff for what he believed was a work event in May 2020.
Tory Members of Parliament were incensed by the Prime Minister’s claim that the party was a work event that did not break lockdown rules.
There are rumblings that Mr Johnson may face a leadership challenge in the near future.
Unearthed accounts show that months after the ‘bring your own booze’ event in the Prime Minister’s garden, he called on members of the public to report “Animal House” style parties to the police.
In May 2020, when Mr Johnson garden event took place, England was in national lockdown and people were banned from meeting more than one other person outdoors, with strict social distancing measures in place.
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In September 2020, gatherings of more than six people, both indoors and outdoors, were against the law with those who ignored the measures at risk of facing fines of up to £3,200.
Despite rules having been relaxed, Mr Johnson told the Sun at the time: “I have never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself.
“What people should do in the first instance is, obviously if they are concerned, is raise it with their friends and neighbours.
“But I think what is reasonable for anyone to do is if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of a neighbours’ activities, if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health, then it’s reasonable for the authorities to know.”
Animal House is a National Lampoon US comedy in which John Belushi stars as a hard-partying member of a college fraternity.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel said at the time she would report breaches of COVID-19 restrictions by neighbours to the police.
She even suggested families who stopped to talk in the street may be breaking rules.
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Patel said: “I’m rarely at home but if I saw something that I thought was inappropriate then, quite frankly I would call the police.
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“It’s not dobbing in neighbours, it’s all about us taking personal responsibility.”
She also added that if there was a “big party taking place” then “it would be right to call the police”.
Ms Patel continued: “Anyone who is effectively defying rules, they will be helping to spread the virus.
“That is not a good thing and obviously we all have a role to play.
“We’re all taking personal responsibility, we all have to be conscientious to one another.”
On May 20, 2020, when the garden event took place, 851 people were admitted to hospital suffering from coronavirus and there were a total of 9,563 Covid patients in hospitals across the UK.
According to Government data, a further 2,700 daily cases were recorded while 328 people died because of the virus.
Mr Johnson insisted that he was following the rules and urged MPs yesterday to wait until senior civil servant Sue Gray’s investigation on the matter is complete.
A Downing Street spokesman later added that the Prime Minister had not seen the email invite to Number 10 staff from civil servant Martin Reynolds, which encouraged attendees to bring their own booze to the event.
However, former members of his staff have argued that on May 20 Mr Johnson seems to have been in clear violation of the rules.
In a Tweet yesterday Dominic Cummings argued that given the formal email invitation, the event was “no way within the rules” and was “obviously social, not work”.
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