UK Conservative politicians have expressed shock and frustration after new revelations emerged about yet another party held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to UK media reports, Martin Reynolds, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, sent an email in May 2020 to more than 100 Downing Street employees inviting them to a garden party.
Multiple reports have suggested that Johnson himself and his wife, Carrie, were among about 30 people who attended the gathering on May 20, 2020.
At the time, England was under strict CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions, under which groups were banned from meeting socially outdoors.
Johnson has said it’s a matter for Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who is investigating a series of reported parties in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall in 2020, to determine what happened.
But Conservative politicians warned that such a position is unsustainable, as Johnson must know whether he was there or not.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he felt “furious” at the latest allegations and that it would be “unacceptable” if people were enjoying the sunshine in the back garden of Number 10 while strict restrictions were in place.
“I’m in no doubt that any member—whether the prime minister or otherwise—who deliberately misleads Parliament cannot continue. They would have to resign, and I’ve said that before now,” he said.
Backbench Tory MP Nigel Mills said the situation is “utterly untenable.”
“We have seen people resign for far less than that. If the prime minister knowingly attended a party, I can’t see how he can survive,” he told BBC News on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we need an inquiry to work out whether the prime minister was there. He knows whether he was there or not. Just come out and say what happened. If he was there, he better try a hugely fulsome apology and see if the country will buy it but I’m not sure they will.”
Senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Defence Committee in the House of Commons, said Johnson should apologise and “show some contrition.”
He told Sky News on Wednesday, “We can’t allow things to drift, that is not an option.”
According to two snap polls, a majority of British voters now believed Johnson should stand down as prime minister.
A Savanta ComRes study found 66 percent of British adults thought he should quit, with 24 percent saying he should stay. A YouGov survey for Sky News found 56 percent believed he should go, with 27 percent saying he should remain.
But Tory backbencher Michael Fabricant has defended the prime minister against the allegations, saying the secure nature of the Downing Street garden would be a factor considered in the inquiry into the gathering.
He wrote on Twitter: “#Covid rules are and were all about not spreading disease. The Downing Street garden is a secure area protected by armed police adjoining (around) 100 cramped offices. No mixing with non-Downing Street workers is possible. This will be one of the factors being considered in the inquiry.”
PA Media contributed to this report.