Boris Johnson caught in photo from May 2020 fraternizing without social distance with 19 other people

At first it was just a piece of news — which Boris Johnson refuted — but this Sunday the proof of that news emerged: a photograph showing the British Prime Minister, his wife, Carrie Symonds, and 19 other members of Johnson’s team in the garden. 10 Downing Street, the seat of Government, fraternizing, with cheese and bottles of wine on the tables and without any social distance between them.

It was May 2020, and the rest of the Brits could only meet two people from another household, outside and at least two meters away. It is further proof that, during the worst year of the pandemic, not all the rules in force were respected by the very people who decided to impose them on the population as a way to prevent its spread.

The story results from a joint investigation between the daily “The Guardian” and the “Independent” who have been trying to understand the extent to which British rulers have failed to comply with the rules of restriction of movement and social gatherings that almost all European citizens have had to observe for months on end.

The photograph was captured on May 15, at what Boris Johnson’s spokesperson called a “working meeting.” But the source of the two newspapers describes a festive atmosphere in which “some employees were eating pizza, drinking wine and white drinks until nightfall”. Some stayed in the garden and others gathered inside the building, which would be prohibited at that time.

There was also another news this Sunday: the Government is seriously considering imposing tighter measures for Christmas, and may include a ban on gatherings in closed places, writes Sky News.

Health authorities had advised the Government to ban face-to-face work meetings unless there was no other alternative, a directive the Executive accepted and imposed.

Angela Rayner, the Labor Party’s deputy leader, described the image as “a slap in the face to the British public”, adding that “the prime minister always manages to show that he has no regard for the rules he sets for the rest of the population”.

On that day, the then Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, had asked, at a press conference, that people stay at home, despite the good weather forecast for that weekend. Schools, restaurants and bars were still closed then.

It’s not the first time Johnson has been accused of taking the containment measures imposed to control covid-19 lightly seriously. Earlier in the month, footage appeared — and then a video — showing several members of the prime minister’s team gathered for a Christmas party in December 2020, when hundreds of people died a day in the UK. In that video, you can hear laughter and laughter when some of the employees start to imagine answers for the press in case a journalist discovers the party that was happening at that moment.

Three days earlier, Johnson organized and participated in an online game, a traditional quiz, where someone asks several questions about a certain topic and the team that has the most correct answers wins. His ministers pointed out the obvious, that the event was held online and lasted about 15 minutes, but the opposition preferred to focus on Johnson’s “registry”, which, in the opinion of his critics, “has always promoted a culture of neglect. the rules”, as the same Angela Rayner wrote on Twitter.

Criticism of Boris Johnson’s relatively relaxed stance during the pandemic reached a boiling point this month but more serious than Zoom’s meeting with the team were revelations made by his former adviser, Dominic Cummings, to an established parliamentary committee to try to figure out what went wrong in the beginning of the response to the pandemic. Cummings said Johnson was always very reluctant to implement measures, having delayed many of them, and even said things like “let the bodies pile up by the thousands” at a time when, totally against their will, British health experts they urgently requested a second confinement.

And if the prime minister himself seems to belong to a more “libertarian” wing of conservatives, even more radical are the conservative deputies who, last week, voted against imposing a negative test vaccination test to enter major events. Ninety-six conservatives, defending individual freedom, chose to voice the biggest revolt ever in Johnson’s nearly two-year term at the head of the Executive.

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Boris Johnson caught in photo from May 2020 fraternizing without social distance with 19 other people