Tearful bereaved MPs demand answers from Boris Johnson over ‘party in lockdown’ in 2020

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Tearful bereaved MPs demand answers from Boris Johnson over ‘party in lockdown’ in 2020
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  • Michael Ellis
    British politician (born 1967)

Bereaved MPs spoke emotionally about their losses in the Commons on Tuesday as they demanded answers from the Prime Minister over an alleged lockdown-breaking party in May 2020.

Boris Johnson was hit with fresh political anger on Monday night after an email emerged which invited more than 100 Downing Street staff to a ‘bring your own booze’ gathering in the No 10 garden at the height of lockdown.

In an emotional question to minister Michael Ellis in the Commons, DUP MP Jim Shannon broke down in tears when he revealed his mother-in-law “died alone” because of strict Covid rules.

Through tears, he said: “In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to Covid just last week. Including my mother-in-law, who died alone.”

The MP for Strangford demanded the government give a “full and complete disclosure” over the allegations.

Paymaster General Michael Ellis, who answered an urgent question on behalf of the government from Labour about the reports, said he was “very sorry for his loss”.

Labour MP Afzal Khan spoke of a “solemn Eid” after his mother died alone in hospital in March 2020.

The Manchester Gorton MP said: “Even burdened with our grief, my family obeyed the rules. Just three days after the Downing Street party we marked a solemn Eid, the first without my lovely mum.

“When asked by Sky News about the parties, the Prime Minister did little but smirk and laugh.

“He should be here today, but as he is not can the minister confirm whether the Prime Minister will be apologising to bereaved families like mine for the anguish, pain and torment caused not just by hosting these parties, but for continuing to lie about it?”

At the time Downing Street was alleged to have held the garden party on May 20 in 2020, strict rules meant people could only meet one other person from another household outdoors from a distance of two metres.

Mr Johnson has so far declined to answer directly whether he was at the party with wife Carrie, as some reports have alleged.

Ministers have stated an inquiry into allegations of parties during lockdown at the heart of government is being conducted by civil servant Sue Gray.

Mr Johnson has faced strong criticism from some within his own party over the alleged gathering.

Former leader of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson, said: “People are (rightly) furious. They sacrificed so much — visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals.”

A spokesperson for the Met Police said it was aware of the reports of lockdown-breaking behaviour and the force was “in contact” with the Cabinet Office over it.

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