Politics

Boris Johnson urged to resign by grieving Scots families after Downing Street party


GRIEVING Scots families have called on Boris Johnson to resign in light of further revelations around rule-breaking Downing Street parties.

The Prime Minister confirmed today that he did attend the No 10 garden on May 20, 2020 – acknowledging the public “rage” over the incident but insisted he thought it could have been technically within the rules.

On Monday, a leaked email showed Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, inviting Downing Street staff to the gathering to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

It was reported that the email was sent to around 100 people.

HeraldScotland:

At the time, Scotland was in its 58th day of lockdown and confirmed its 14,655th Covid case.

A further 29 deaths were recorded, bringing the official toll to 2,134.

The day before, a report showed that Scotland suffered the biggest jump in unemployment of any of the UK nations at the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

Scots were unable to see loved ones at the time and had been told to stay inside as much as possible.

Many had also lost loved ones who they were unable to spend their final days with, and in some cases had to attend their funerals virtually.

‘I feel robbed’

On the day Downing Street officials allegedly met up for a boozy garden party, 35-year-old Amy Hessen from Aberdeen was given the heartbreaking news that her mother had died, and was unable to comfort her father following his wife’s death.

Mrs Hessen told the Press and Journal: “I didn’t see my mum for the last two and a half months of her life, through that time she didn’t see her grandkids and she was deteriorating – I do feel robbed of those last days with her.

“The hardest thing for me, thinking back, is that my mum did die quite suddenly and I didn’t know what I was allowed to do.

“He had just lost his wife and I was thinking ‘Can I go see him?’ I was very anxious about it, I didn’t know what to do, my human instinct was to see him.”

‘Not fit to be Prime Minister’

In Fife, a grieving son had to watch his mother’s funeral online just two days before the alleged Downing Street drinks party.

Alan Wightman’s 88-year-old mum Helen died of Covid-19 in a Fife care home on May 6 2020.

He told The Courier: “I was watching on a screen and I saw one family member in distress during the service but no-one was able to put an arm around that person.

“It was hard for everyone concerned.

“And now I find out that idiot was partying all the way through lockdown. He’s not fit to be Prime Minister.”

READ MORE: ‘A nation on the brink’: How Scotland struggled while Downing Street partied

Mr Wightman has now called for the Prime Minister to resign.

He added: “This Downing Street garden party wasn’t an isolated incident. I thought the Allegra Stratton revelations in December were bad enough but it seems it goes back a year-and-a-half before that. It’s endemic.

“Just two days after my own mother’s funeral, there was a garden party in Downing Street.

“And this was at a time when we were only allowed to meet one other person outdoors.”

‘They’re laughing at us’

Jenni Lang, from Edinburgh, told the Daily Record her brother Graeme Wilkie was in intensive care fighting for his life on May 20, 2020.

It was reported that she watched on in a Facetime call just three days later as he died – but a limit on visitor numbers meant she was not allowed into the hospital to be by his side.

The 44-year-old told the paper: “They were telling us to stick to the rules but they thought it was OK to have a party.

“We couldn’t comfort one another but they’re having cheese and wine in the garden. They’re laughing at us and think this is OK?”

“We feel traumatised by what has happened, almost like we have PTSD because of our experience and then all these revelations come out that Boris and his staff are telling us to do one thing while they do another.

“I just don’t get it. It’s time for him to go.

“By the May 20, Graeme was in ICU. He was suspected of having pneumonia and antibiotics hadn’t worked. We asked if it was Covid but they couldn’t tell us.

“They said they would need to wait until the post mortem. Three days later, my dad and I watched him take his final breaths on Facetime.”

READ MORE: Johnson admits attending Downing Street party during lockdown

Five people at a funeral

The son of a Bletchley Park codebreaker, Ann Mitchell, whose Edinburgh funeral was on the same day as an alleged Downing Street party has said he is “totally gobsmacked” by the claims.

Andy Mitchell, 63, told The Scotsman: “We didn’t complain at the time, because we knew that was what the situation was… I expected any moment to be pulled over by the police to say ‘Where are you going? What are you doing?’”

“(We had) a very quick chat with my family out in the car park afterwards, and then we all went straight home.

“So, no hanging about, no drinks in the garden or anything like that.

“We knew the situation demanded that we couldn’t hang about, we couldn’t socialise, we had to go home.”

Mrs Mitchell’s funeral was attended by just five people.

Speaking about the Downing Street gathering he said: “It was done on an organised basis.

“It wasn’t just a sort of casual ‘Let’s go outside at the end of the day’, but to actually send out an invitation from the Prime Minister’s office to do that, I’m just stunned.”


Johnson’s apology 

Mr Johnson told MPs that he attended the May 20 2020 gathering for around 25 minutes to “thank groups of staff”.

“I believed implicitly that this was a work event,” he said.

But “with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside, I should have found some other way to thank them, and I should have recognised that – even if it could have been said technically to fall within the guidance – there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged that included “people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden for meeting loved ones at all inside or outside” adding: “To them and to this House, I offer my heartfelt apologies.”

He said that senior official Sue Gray should be allowed to complete her inquiry into a series of alleged parties held during lockdown in No 10 and Whitehall “so that the full facts can be established”.




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