At least two Downing Street staffers have received police fines for attending a ‘bring your own booze’ event on 20 May 2020, sources told The Independent.
This is the second event that the prime minister is known to have attended at which revellers have been given fixed penalty notices.
In January, Boris Johnson admitted he attended the event which took place when the nation was in lockdown, however he claimed he believed it was a work event. Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, is said to have invited up to 100 people to the “socially distanced” evening drinks.
It was reported that 30-40 people turned up, including the prime minister’s wife Carrie.
No 10 has denied Mr Johnson has received another fixed penality notice for the garden party on 20 May.
The revelations come after the Metropolitan Police announced it would not issues any further updates on Partygate fines until after May’s local elections.
The decision has drawn some criticism, with a human rights barrister saying that withholding information could influence the vote.
Downing Street has indicated it will still say whether the prime minister, who was already handed one fixed-penalty notice by police over a birthday event in 2020, receives further fines, despite Scotland Yard’s pause on announcements.
A Met spokesperson said: “While the investigation will continue during the pre-election period, due to the restrictions around communicating before the May local elections, we will not provide further updates until after 5 May.”
But Adam Wagner, an expert on Covid-19 regulations, who has been involved in a legal challenge to the Met’s initial refusal to investigate lockdown-busting Downing Street parties, questioned whether the police should observe pre-election period rules which typically place limits on government publicity around elections.
The latest tranche of Covid fines will heap more pressure on Boris Johnson, who has been told this week that a no-confidence vote is “inevitable”.
Senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said a ballot on the prime minister’s future was a matter of “when, not if”, as he urged fellow backbenchers to stop “drinking the Kool-Aid”, and force a change of leadership.
Tory peer Lord Hayward, the party’s influential polling expert, predicted a no-confidence vote within months following a “dramatic” shift in support since the PM was fined over his law-breaking birthday bash.
“The mood has turned against the prime minister,” Lord Hayward told the BBC after speaking to Tory colleagues at Westminster. “Support for the prime minister has fallen quite markedly ... I expect there to be a challenge to his leadership.”
Sir John Curtice told The Independent that Partygate is set to be a major problem for the Tories at the May local elections – saying that the party’s polling had got worse since the PM was fined by the Metropolitan Police.
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