The British already knew for the end of 2020 Christmas parties in Downing Street, with board games and all-you-can-eat canapes, when they were all deprived of family gatherings. They also discovered on Monday January 10 that a booze party (“alcoholic evening”) took place on May 20, 2020, in which Boris Johnson admitted having participated, violating the rules of confinement, while picnics in the parks were still prohibited and participation in funerals limited to thirty people .
Thanks to Daily Telegraph, they also discovered with dismay, Thursday, January 13, that the music resounded until the middle of the night in the most famous impasse in the country on April 16, 2021, the day before the funeral of Prince Philip, in full mourning national. These events are “deeply regrettable”, said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister on Friday January 14, assuring that “Downing Street has apologized to Buckingham Palace”.
The photograph had gone around the world: on April 17, 2021, Queen Elizabeth II, 95, faced her husband’s coffin in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. She stands alone, social distancing rules oblige. Prince Philip is a controversial figure, but the British largely commune with the mourning of their sovereign, ultra-popular, while tens of thousands of them mourn their deaths from Covid-19. Even in Belfast, young people in Protestant neighborhoods are breaking up street brawls sparked by their rejection of Northern Irish protocol, out of respect for the Queen.
Culture of impunity
However, the previous evening, the wine flowed freely on the ground floor of 10 Downing Street, where two parties continued late into the night. One was organized in honor of James Slack, Boris Johnson’s communications director, who then left office to become deputy editor of the Sun. With a luxury of details, the Telegraph, strong support until then of the Prime Minister, says that the music was provided by Shelley Williams-Walker, special adviser to Mr. Johnson, that the bottles were bought at the Co-op, a mini-market at the end of the Strand (the boulevard near from Downing Street) and carried in a suitcase. At the end of the evening, in the walled gardens of Downing Street, a diner even tried the swing of Wilfred (18 months), the son of Boris and Carrie Johnson, and broke it.
Boris Johnson was not present that evening: he had already left for his second home in Checkers, specifies the Telegraph. Nevertheless: this booze party shows how much a culture of impunity seems to have developed at the heart of the British executive. The people responsible for defining the health constraints were the first, obviously, not to respect them.
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United Kingdom: serial “booze parties” in Downing Street in the midst of a pandemic