Boris Johnson led the celebrations into a lockdown holiday, sources say.
He allegedly poured the drinks to toast his aide Lee Cain and had often urged staff to “let off steam.”
Labor’s Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson had “degraded his office”.
No 10 sources denied that the Prime Minister organized Mr Cain’s departure.
It is claimed Boris Johnson encouraged his staff to socialize and “let off steam” over drinks at Downing Street during the lockdown.
The Prime Minister braces for more fines for attending lockdown parties, including the farewell party for his former communications director Lee Cain in November 2020.
This event started with drinks in the press office to round out the week but turned into a party when Mr Johnson arrived and started pouring drinks for everyone.
Sources confirmed to the Daily Mirror that the official, taxpayer-funded photographer was present throughout – snapping photos of the PM, who was breaking his own lockdown rules.
The photos were later turned over to the police.
10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty)
Downing Street insiders have also told the Mirror how the Prime Minister would often see staff “sitting there drinking” as he walked to his flat.
Although indoor socializing was banned under lockdown rules at the time, the Prime Minister did nothing to break up gatherings.
The source said: “He came in and said, ‘Hi everyone, have you had a rough week? Let off some steam? Oh cool’. The idea that he didn’t know there were drinks is utter nonsense. When the PM tells you to ‘let off steam,’ he’s basically saying that’s fine.”
One of Britain’s most respected constitutional historians yesterday branded Mr Johnson a “rogue Prime Minister unworthy of the Queen”.
Peter Hennessy, who sits in the House of Lords, said the Prime Minister had “swept aside all conventions” in an “assault on the institutions of the state”.
The normally mild-mannered cross-bench peer accused Mr Johnson of sullying his office “like no other, turning it into an adventure playground for a man’s narcissistic vanity”.
He said, “The decency and probity and conventions of public life are insufficient to restrain the ego that currently fills No. 10.”
Damning the Prime Minister, Lord Hennessy claimed that Mr Johnson must have “knowingly misled” Parliament when he repeatedly claimed lockdown rules were respected at all times.
On Tuesday, Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle is expected to allow MPs to vote on whether to conduct an inquiry into claims the Prime Minister misled Parliament by telling MPs he had not broken any lockdown rules.
On Wednesday, Mr Johnson faces a vote on whether to refer him to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee. If he is found to have broken the rules, Mr Johnson could be suspended from Parliament for disregard for privilege.
Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner has blasted the Prime Minister over allegations about the party for Mr Cain. She said: “If the latest reports are true, it would mean that the PM not only attended parties but was involved in instigating at least one of them.
“He deliberately misled the British people at every turn. The Prime Minister has reduced his position.”
Sources told the Mirror that Mr Johnson had joined the No 10 press team on November 13, 2020, the day Mr Cain and the Prime Minister’s former top adviser Dominic Cummings left Downing Street. Mr Johnson “poured the drinks” – including for himself – and chatted with his aides before toasting his outgoing spin boss and posing for photos.
Another insider told the Sunday Times: “Boris fumbled over with a red crate in tow and gathered staff around the press office table, which had bottles of alcohol on it. He said he wanted to say a few words for Lee and started pouring drinks for people and drinking himself. He toasted him.”
Mr Johnson later went upstairs to the flat where his wife Carrie was said to have hosted a party with friends to celebrate Mr Cummings’ departure.
Downing Street sources did not dispute the description of Mr Cain’s departure but disputed that the Prime Minister had orchestrated it.
Mr Johnson is understood to have been present at at least six of the 12 events being investigated by the Metropolitan Police for breaking Covid rules.
He, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined by Met police for breaking lockdown laws at a gathering on June 19, 2020 to celebrate the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday.
The Prime Minister is expected to make a statement on the fine before Parliament tomorrow, in which he will apologize for breaking the rules but insists he was unaware.
Mr Johnson will this week continue his attempts to get back on his feet after a week in which the Partygate scandal plagued him.
The Prime Minister plans to meet with all Tory MPs tomorrow night for a “air free” discussion to bolster support when they return to Westminster after the Easter break.
He will then travel to India for a long-delayed trip to discuss defense, including the Ukraine conflict, and trade with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Johnson’s allies have defended his fine by the police, saying not all crimes are equal and murder is not the same as manslaughter.
One of his supporters even claimed someone was not “really in mortal danger” if they were caught just over the speed limit four times.
This proposal was derided by former Man United and England footballer Gary Neville, who pointed out that people fined for four times speeding in a given period will lose their license and be banned from driving.
Cabinet Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg defended the Prime Minister, saying Mr Johnson had not misled the House of Commons – which is traditionally a bagable offense – with his repeated denials of lockdown busting parties.
He said: “I think the Prime Minister spoke to Parliament in good faith. I think if you hear what happened at the party he was fined for, a lot of people would think they played by the rules.
“They met people they were with every day who happened to wish them a happy birthday because that was the day it was.
“Now the police have decided differently and the police have authority.
“But he didn’t think anything irrational or unreasonable, that was within the rules.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-encouraged-staff-steam-26732977 Boris Johnson 'encouraged staff to let off steam' on 'wine time on Fridays' lockdown