‘Damning!’ Top Tories lash out at Boris Johnson over photos of lockdown leaving-do

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·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
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Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said Boris Johnson must explain himself following leaked photos of him at No. 10 party during lockdown. (ITV News)

A growing number of senior Conservative MPs have criticised Boris Johnson following leaked images said to show him at a party in Downing Street during lockdown in 2020.

The anger comes after ITV News on Monday revealed four leaked photos showing the prime minister raising a glass at a gathering next to a table full of empty bottles of wine.

At the time, England was under a strict lockdown due to surging numbers of COVID cases following the emergence of the highly contagious Delta strain.

Read more: Partygate: Sue Gray report 'so bad for Boris Johnson' he could quit

ITV News said the images were from a leaving-do for Johnson's then-director of communications, Lee Cain, on 13 November, 2020.

In the photographs, there also appears to be food on the table, party cups, biscuits and even a bottle of hand sanitiser.

The Metropolitan Police has said its officers were aware of the images when they decided not to fine the prime minister for being present. However, at least one person at the event was fined for breaking lockdown.

Watch: Photos appear to show Boris Johnson toasting colleague at Downing Street lockdown drinks

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has demanded the prime minister explain himself.

"These images will rightly make people across the country very angry," Ross said.

"The prime minister must outline why he believes this behaviour was acceptable. To most, these pictures seem unjustifiable and wrong."

Read more: Bottle of 'Partygate souvenir champagne' signed by Boris Johnson donated to charity

Ross previously called for Johnson's resignation due to the Partygate scandal; however, he withdrew his no-confidence letter following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday evening, senior Tory MP Steve Baker, who has already called for the PM's resignation, shared an image from the government's COVID campaign.

It reads: "Look her in the eyes and tell her you never bend the rules", followed by, "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives".

steve baker
Senior Tory MP Steve Baker has shared an image from the government's NHS COVID campaign that encouraged people to stay at home during lockdown. (Twitter/@stevebakerhw)

When approached by Yahoo News UK, senior Conservative and Johnson critic Sir Roger Gale said: "Damning!"

Gale has also previously said Johnson should resign but, like Ross, withdrew his calls following Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.

Johnson has previously denied that a gathering was held on 13 November, 2020 when asked in the House of Commons, raising questions as to whether he misled parliament – widely regarded as a resignation matter.

Read more: LBC's Shelagh Fogarty: 'Partygate' makes her 'blood boil' as she remembers caring for mum

"Can the prime minister tell the House whether there was a party in Downing Street on 13 November?” asked Labour MP Catherine West on 8 December, 2021.

“No, but I’m sure whatever happened the guidance... and the rules were followed at all times,” Johnson responded.

The leaked photos come ahead of the much-anticipated Sue Gray report into Partygate, which is expected to reveal more details of Downing Street parties during lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street, London, as Mr Johnson overhauls his Downing Street operation following the conclusion of a four-month Metropolitan Police inquiry into lockdown-busting parties at the top of Government during the pandemic. Picture date: Friday May 20, 2022.
The prime minister previously denied there was a Downing Street party on 13 November, 2020. (PA)

The Metropolitan Police concluded its investigation into Partygate last week, with the prime minister receiving one fine for being present at a birthday gathering during lockdown in 2020.

Labour has lambasted Johnson over the new photos, claiming "there's no doubt" that he lied about parties on Downing Street.

“While the British public were making huge sacrifices, Boris Johnson was breaking the law," deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said on Monday.

Read more: The 67 words Boris Johnson used to brush off the Partygate scandal

“Boris Johnson said repeatedly that he knew nothing about law-breaking – there’s no doubt now, he lied.

"Boris Johnson made the rules, and then broke them.

“The prime minister has demeaned his office. The British people deserve better.

"While Labour has a plan for tackling the cost-of-living crisis, Tory MPs are too busy defending the indefensible actions of Boris Johnson."

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