Excuses, Excuses: How The Government Tried To Wriggle Out Of Partygate

Partygate has been a headline-grabbing scandal since December – and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

Photos, emails and new allegations have leaked to the media in recent weeks, each focusing on a different party that allegedly took place in Downing Street while the rest of the country was under lockdown.

There are approximately seven parties that are said to have taken place at No 10 between May 2020 and April 2021, and five other parties that took place outside of No 10.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is expected to publish the findings of her investigation into the alleged celebrations in the coming weeks, which Downing Street claims to accept.

In the meantime, the government has resolutely put forward a whole series of reasons to explain the different parties.

Here is a list of the scariest excuses:

Apologies for April 16, 2021

It was a “farewell speech”

The apology followed Friday’s reports of two going away parties taking place at No 10 the night before Prince Philip’s funeral on April 16, 2021.

Referring to James Slack’s departure, Johnson’s former communications director, No 10, said: “On this individual’s last day, he gave a farewell speech, to thank each team for the work that she had accomplished, both those who needed to be in the office and on a screen for those working from home.

Business Insider pointed out that Slack also left public service a month before the departure even happened.

The Queen seated alone in St George’s Chapel during Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday April 17, 2021.

Refused to recognize it was a party

Downing Street has issued an apology to Buckingham Palace over allegations that staff partied the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral as the country went into national mourning.

However, No 10 refused to confirm or deny what was happening behind the gates of Downing Street at the time.

Johnson’s deputy spokesman simply said: “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No 10 has apologized to the Palace.”

Asked why it was an apology from Downing Street and not from Johnson, the spokesman said: ‘Again the Prime Minister said earlier that errors of judgment had been made, and it is right for people to apologize like the Prime Minister did earlier this week.”

Apologies for May 20, 2020

Truss claimed ‘he apologized’ so everyone should ‘move on’

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told ITV News that people should look into Brexit and the Covid recovery for Johnson’s true legacy.

Speaking to partygate in general, she said: ‘The Prime Minister apologized on Wednesday. He was very clear that mistakes were made…I think now we need to move on…”

The rules were ‘too difficult’ to follow

Courtesy of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the Commons, this one appeared Thursday, in defense of the party on May 20, 2020.

Rees Mogg claimed: ‘We have to consider like this is going to an investigation and we are looking at what happened with Covid, if all of these regulations were proportionate or if it was too hard on people.

Johnson has not ‘seen’ or ‘received’ the email

Even though the invitation to the May 20, 2020 party was sent by Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary, Martin Reynolds – and the event itself was held in the Prime Minister’s garden – Johnson would not saw the email, which made it clear. it was a social event.

On Wednesday, Downing Street claimed that Johnson had also not received the email and had not asked Reynolds to send the invitation, which explicitly states: ‘It would be nice to make the most of the good weather and having socially distanced drinks in the No.10 garden tonight.

Johnson defending himself in the Commons on Wednesday
Johnson defending himself in the Commons on Wednesday

House of Commons via PA Wire/PA Images

Johnson ‘didn’t know it was a party’

The prime minister issued a public apology at the start of PMQs on Wednesday.

He said: “When I went to this garden just after six on May 20, 2020, to thank groups of employees before returning to my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I implicitly believed that it was a work event.”

The garden is an “extension of the office”

He also claimed: ‘No 10 is a large department with a garden as an extension of the office which has been in constant use due to the role of fresh air in stopping the virus.

Technically “in the rules”

The Prime Minister also avoided any admission that this meeting between staff at 30 and 40 Downing Street – and including the alcohol – was outside the rules.

He said: “I should have recognized that even though you could say it technically fell within the guidelines, there are millions and millions of people who just wouldn’t see it that way, people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden to meet close inside or outside, and to them and to this House, I offer my most sincere apologies.

It’s time to wait for Sue Gray’s conclusions

The prime minister and his top ministers dodged much criticism by deferring to Gray’s investigation.

On Wednesday, Johnson said: ‘All I ask is that Sue Gray be allowed to complete her investigation into this day and several others so that all of the facts can be established.

This sentence has been echoed by all his conservative allies and adds to the pressure surrounding his investigation.

Apologies for the Christmas party

News of a possible Christmas party on December 18, 2020 broke last month and was soon followed by a video of one of the Prime Minister’s aides at the time laughing socializing during the lockdown.

Speaking on December 8, 2021, Johnson said he shared the public’s anger and claimed he was “furious” to see this clip.

He said: “I unreservedly apologize for the offense he has caused across the country and I apologize for the impression this gives.”

The Prime Minister then maintained that he had been “repeatedly assured” that there was “no party”.

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