Health Minister admits public will be ‘angry’ at lockdown party # 10 | Preservatives
A health minister admitted that the public would be “upset and angry” over revelations that a senior official invited more than 100 Downing Street employees to a “bring your own alcohol” party during the first lockdown.
Tacitly acknowledging the strength of feelings at the latest revelations, Ed Argar said he had not personally attended any parties and was aware of the regulations, “not least because I was a health minister who had helped to write them up “.
It came as former Scottish Tories leader Ruth Davidson demanded an immediate explanation from Boris Johnson, after No.10 and ministers said any comment must await the conclusion of the official Sue Gray investigation. on the Downing Street lockdown violations.
“This line will not survive 48 hours. No one needs an official to tell them if they were at a boozy party in their own backyard. People are (rightly) furious. They have sacrificed so much – visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals. What were these people thinking? Davidson tweeted.
Labor Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said it was the most serious allegation to date. “The reason it’s so damning is because it was an organized party, with no ifs and buts, because it was clearly the most egregious violation of the rules,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
“The Prime Minister cannot run and he cannot hide. He must respond. If I’ve been to a party, I know I’ve been there. He has to explain – was he at the party? How can he justify everything he said in the House of Commons – that no rules were broken, that he did nothing wrong? He will have to answer.
Argar told Sky News he understands the public anger after the email from senior official Martin Reynolds inviting staff for drinks in the garden was discovered by ITN. Met police said they would investigate.
Around 30 to 40 people were said to have attended, with food and wine on the tables, but some staff were said to have expressed reservations at the time.
On the same day, Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, reminded the public at a press conference: “You can meet someone outside your household in an outdoor public place as long as you stay 2 meters away. the other.”
Argar told Sky News: “I can understand that with these allegations people will be upset and angry, which is why it is only right that the Prime Minister called for this independent investigation to be completed quickly, to find out the facts behind these allegations What actually happened or did not happen in Downing Street is Ms Gray’s business.
“She will come to her conclusions after questioning those concerned, after examining the evidence and …”
When asked if he would have attended a party himself, Argar said, “I spent my May of last year talking to you on various occasions and in various other media, but at pretty much glued to my Zoom screen and making sure I knew the rules. were – not least because I was a Minister of Health who helped draft them.
“I haven’t been invited to any party and I’m not going to speculate. … I was clear about the rules at the time and it is right that Sue Gray is looking at this issue independently.
Argar admitted that he may have had a “quiet word” with neighbors throwing a party for 40 people. “But I’m not going to extrapolate from that or be pulled over the allegations just yet.”