BORIS Johnson has been engulfed in a fresh partygate storm after admitting to an indoor birthday celebration at the height of the first lockdown.
The Prime Minister turned 56 on June 19, 2020, with No10 confirming staff gathered to wish him well in the Cabinet Room when indoor social mixing was banned.
It is claimed his then fiancée Carrie surprised the PM with a cake and led a chorus of Happy Birthday with at least 30 staff members.
A Downing Street insider last night said: "This was a few people who were in the office saying happy birthday, it was not a party."
ITV News said well-wishers included the interior designer Lulu Lytle, who was at the time in charge of the controversial six-figure revamp of the PM’s flat.
But No10 insisted that the PM was there for “less than ten minutes” after staff had “gathered briefly” after a meeting.
And Boris-defending Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries hit out: “So, when people in an office buy a cake in the middle of the afternoon for someone else they are working in the office with and stop for ten minutes to sing happy birthday and then go back to their desks, this is now called a party?”
It is understood the gathering was already being probed by partygate investigator Sue Gray and will not delay her report expected to land within days.
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No10 also denied claims members of the Johnson family had been to the Downing Street flat the same evening, saying they met in the garden in line with the rules.
ITV news claimed “family friends” had partied that evening in the Prime Minister's official residence.
But No10 said that was “totally untrue.”
A spokesman added: “In line with the rules at the time the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today said he wouldn't "seek to defend" the birthday party which he suggested should have been cancelled.
He said he was "furious with everybody" who broke lockdown rules but stressed the PM wasn't personally responsible for organising the bash.
The latest twist in the partygate saga came just hours after ex-No10 aide Dominic Cummings warned there would be fresh revelations imminently, and “officials” in Whitehall were actively engaged in a plot to overthrow the PM this week.
In a menacing tweet, he warned Tory MPs they must dump the PM “if they want the nightmare to end.”
The latest twist in the saga came as No10 braced itself for Gray’s report – with some of the PM’s closest ministerial allies privately admitting the “game might be up” for BoJo.
One said: “There’s a drumbeat to it now and that is very worrying.”
“Everyone who has ever been upset with him can smell blood now and they are not going to stop”
“There is growing momentum to bad news and no clear sign of a plan to turn it around.”
It separate developments:
- Tory MP William Wragg met with the Metropolitan Police to discuss blackmailing and intimidation claims by whips against Tory MPs
- Sue Gray’s probe in partygate was being finalised with more than six full time officials working on the probe
- The PM caved to pressure to launch a separate probe into Islamophobia claims from ex-minister Nustrat Ghani
Meanwhile Mr Johnson’s nemesis Cummings refused to be interviewed by the partygate probe – despite making bombshell claims of lockdown breaking in Downing Street.
The former No10 aide only agreed to give written evidence – saying the PM would twist his words if he faced chief inquisitor Sue Gray.
But last night senior Tories accused him of running scared of his incendiary claims being scrutinised.
Cummings has said that the PM was warned a party in May 2020 broke Covid rules, but Boris insists he thought it was a work event.
In a blogpost, he claimed the PM “will invent nonsense and spin it to the media" if he submitted his evidence to Gray face to face, who he claimed "agreed" for there to be "only a written record".
But former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “Its quite clear that Cummings is not prepared to put himself forward for cross-examination but rather drip, drip his poison unquestioned from the sidelines.
“That is not the behaviour of someone trying to help the inquiry but someone with a personal axe to grind, but whose claims have been shown to be dubious in the past.”
Sorry you missed out..
BORIS Johnson told a young girl “to do our bit” as she cancelled her birthday party despite the Prime Minister having a surprise party himself.
In neat joined-up writing, seven-year-old Josephine from Stubbington, Hampshire wrote to Boris Johnson that “mummy and daddy might have to cancel my party” because she had been told to stay at home.
The PM responded, writing: "I am glad to hear you are staying at home, though I am sorry to hear about your party.
"We have all got to do out bit to protect the NHS and save lives, and that is exactly what you are doing, so well done!"
Unknown to Josephine, Johnson’s wife Carrie then threw Boris a surprise birthday some months after the letter with up to 30 people attending.
At the time, social gatherings were banned with only six people allowed to meet outside in social bubbles.
Labour has repeated their calls for the PM to resign over the partygate row.
Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of becoming a “national distraction.”
He added: “we have got a Prime Minister and a government who spend their whole time mopping up sleaze and deceit.
“Meanwhile millions of people are struggling to pay their bills. We cannot afford to go on with this chaotic, rudderless government.”
No10 said: “A group of staff working in No. 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday. He was there for less than ten minutes.”
“In line with the rules at the time the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.”
A spokesman for Lulu Lytle said: “Lulu was present in Downing Street on 19 June working on the refurbishment.
"Lulu was not invited to any birthday celebrations for the prime minister as a guest. Lulu entered the cabinet room briefly as requested, while waiting to speak with the prime minister.”
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