The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has come under fire for attending a party in Downing street during the lockdown in the UK in 2020.
Mr Johnson, on Wednesday, at the weekly session of Prime Minister’s Questions, apologised to Britons saying he believed the gathering was a work event, CNN reported.
‘’Johnson said he did attend the gathering for 25 minutes before going inside to work. He said he believed the gathering to be a work event, but with hindsight conceded he should have sent attendees back inside.’’
An email, sent to as many as 100 people in Downing Street, invited them to “socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden this evening.”
Reports say about 30 people attended the event on May 20, 2020.
ITV News revealed the email was sent on behalf of Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds.
Despite his apology, the British political class as well as other Britons have continued to question his fitness for the office he occupies.
According to CNN, If a government minister breaches the ministerial code, it is expected that they should resign from their job.
Some members of Mr Johnson’s own Conservative party have already come out strongly, with the leader of the Scottish Conservatives saying Mr Johnson must resign if he attended the event.
A Member of Parliament (MP), Edward Davey, wrote on Twitter, “Boris Johnson lied to Parliament and the country, he has become a threat to the health of the nation and it’s time for him to resign.”
Another MP and leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, who also took to his Twitter page, asked Mr Johnson to resign.
Violation of own rules
The party, which held in May 2020, violated the COVID-19 guidance put in place by the UK government that limited gathering to two people.
The BBC reported that on the day of the party, the government’s own Twitter account summarised the guidance by saying that gatherings must be limited to two people outside.
But as with the law, the detailed guideline always allowed for people to work even when there were more than two people in such a workplace.
But by May 20, 2020, the latest guideline stated that: “Workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.”
The “working safely during coronavirus” guidelines also said only “absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings and should maintain 2m separation throughout”. Generally, workers were told to “reduce the number of people you spend time with in a work setting.”
There is nothing in the guidelines that would suggest that drinking, socialising or other types of work events along these lines would have been allowed.
There were also a number of legal restrictions in place in May 2020:
The most relevant law was that people could not leave their homes – or be outside the place they live – without a reasonable excuse, which included work (where you could not work from home), exercise and getting things like food and medicine.
For people who broke these rules, the police in England could fine them £100 for the first offence which could then double for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
The law also banned gatherings in a public place of more than two people, unless they were all members of the same household or the gathering was “essential for work purposes”. However, some lawyers have noted that Downing Street is not a public place.
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