Downing Street bans infamous ‘wine time Fridays’

·2-min read
Boris Johnson has made changesa at No10 after the Partygate revelations  (PA Wire)
Boris Johnson has made changesa at No10 after the Partygate revelations (PA Wire)

The infamous Downing Street “wine time Fridays” have have been banned after Sue Gray’s partygate report revealed government staff “drank excessively” at the events.

Staff in the No10 press office helped themselves to bottles of wine in their office on the last day of the week.

The “WTF” gatherings took place before and during the pandemic.

One lockdown gathering in the office led to red wine being spilled on a wall and over copier paper, while another saw someone be sick and a fight broke out.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the events had “in effect” now been banned “because alcohol consumption for staff is not permitted” any more on the estate outside of formal events, such as those held for visiting dignitaries.

When asked if the fridge bought by No10 staff during the pandemic to store the bottles of wine was now holding soft drinks, he replied: “I don’t think we have a fridge anymore.”

Ms Gray’s damning report into lockdown-busting parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall investigated 16 separate events, eight of which were attended by the Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson was only fined for attending one gathering, his birthday party in the cabinet room in June 2020, but Ms Gray criticised the culture and leadership in No10 over which he presided.

The senior civil servant’s report found that a large number of people attended events and breached Covid guidelines and staff felt unable to raise concerns about the behaviour.

Detectives investigated 12 of the events in Ms Gray’s report and issued 126 fines for Covid breaches to 83 people.

Downing Street’s chief of staff said on Thursday that Boris Johnson had recognised the need for changes within No10 and he has “made those changes”.

Questioned about why there were bottles of wine and gin on tables in a workplace, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay told Sky News: “The Met has looked at these issues, these were very brief periods of time.

“The nature of the Prime Minister’s job is to go from meeting to meeting to meeting, but at the same time he has recognised the need for changes, he’s made those changes, and Sue Gray herself has recognised there’s been significant change, with a permanent secretary, with a change of leadership team, as a result of the lessons we’ve learned.”

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