LONDON — A birthday party was thrown for Boris Johnson during the first coronavirus lockdown in the U.K. despite a strict ban on socializing indoors, ITV News reported Monday.
The broadcaster reported that the U.K. prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, organized a surprise get-together for him on the afternoon of June 19, 2020, when strict coronavirus rules were in place.
The allegation piles more pressure on a government rocked by multiple reports of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and on Whitehall since the start of the pandemic.
Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, has been tasked with investigating the string of claims and is expected to report shortly.
A No. 10 spokesperson told the broadcaster in response to the story: “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.”
Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, one of Johnson’s fiercest defenders, tweeted: “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?”
Lulu Lytle, the interior designer who was hired to renovate Johnson’s Downing Street flat, was among those reportedly present at the gathering of up to 30 people. Carrie Johnson is said to have presented the prime minister with a cake alongside Lytle and led staff in a chorus of “happy birthday.” In June 2020, social gatherings indoors were still forbidden under the U.K.’s lockdown laws, while choirs were banned from singing.
ITV also reported that family friends of the prime minister were hosted in his flat later in the evening of June 19, in another apparent breach of coronavirus regulations. No. 10 denied that “totally untrue” allegation and said Johnson had hosted a small group of people outside.
Seizing on the latest claims, opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “We cannot afford to go on with this chaotic, rudderless government. The prime minister is a national distraction and he’s got to go.”