Downing Street Party: How many bottles of wine will fit in the trunk and other questions

Author: Kate Whannel
BBC news

image source PA Media

Barely a day goes by without further revelations about Downing Street parties during Covid’s lock. Each new bomb will leave another crater of questions about what happened, how it could have happened, who knew it and what would happen next?

We will try to answer these and other questions below:

Why are we only now learning about the parties?

The oldest allegation of a government lock-in assembly (so far) comes from May 15, 2020. But news of the parties did not begin to appear in the media until the winter of 2021.

Pippa Crerar of the Daily Mirror, who first reported two parties in November, said she first heard rumors of a Christmas party in January 2021, but was unable to prove it until months later.

People leak stories to journalists for a variety of reasons – to harm a political rival, for revenge, for entertainment. But without knowing the identity of the first leaker, it’s hard to say why they escaped and why they waited so long.

What we do know is that Mirror’s first story in November encouraged others to come up with their own party experiences, and almost a month later, new stories are still emerging.

Were they business or social parties?

Some were social events – including drinks on May 20, 2020, which the Prime Minister attended, which led to his public apology this week. how do we know Because ITV received an e-mail urging employees to “bring their own booze” to “socially distant drinks in Garden No. 10.”

However, Boris Johnson insisted that he “implicitly believed it was a business event” and argued that Garden No. 10 was often used “as an office extension.”

There were also questions about the nature of the event on May 15, 2020. A picture published by the Guardian newspaper shows about 19 people, including Mr. Johnson and his wife, sitting in the garden with bottles of wine and a chopping board. The prime minister said that this picture shows “people at work, talking about work”.

Shall we hear about more parties?

The number of stories swirling around led some to wonder if there was a single day during the pandemic that there was no party at number 10. At least 10 alleged rallies in Downing Street or government agencies came to light. far. If you are a person with details, here is a complete list

Will there be more? If the last month is anything, then probably.

What can the Sue Gray report cover and what can it decide?

After the first few reports from the parties, the prime minister ordered an inquiry to find out the facts.

Many Conservative MPs said they would wait for the results of the investigation – led by senior state official Sue Gray – before they sentenced the prime minister. Mrs. Gray’s report is likely to be a largely factual description of Downing Street parties.

Catherine Haddon of the Institute for Government think tank says Ms. Gray is unlikely to blame individuals, but her report “may pass disciplinary action on to others.” It may affect the role of prime minister, but it is not up to Mrs Gray to judge his behavior, he added, although “bare facts alone” can be incriminating.

Did the prime minister or others break the law?

Sue Gray cannot decide whether blocking laws have been broken – but the question is crucial for the prime minister’s future. If the investigation reveals evidence of conduct that is a potentially criminal offense, it will be referred to the Metropolitan Police and the investigation will be suspended in accordance with its terms.

What role does Dominic Cummings play in all this?

image source Reuters
Image caption,

Dominic Cummings – Hunter’s farmer became a poacher

Partly accused, partially accused.

The former prime minister, who became a big thorn in his side, was one of the first government figures to be accused of violating Covid’s rules. He drove from London to Durham at the summit of the first lock, later arguing that the move was triggered by security concerns.

He recently made allegations of breaking the rules in issue 10 during the pandemic – including writing on a beverage blog on May 20, 2020.

Mr Cummings said he warned at the time that the action “appeared to be against the rules”.

Who was invited to garden drinks on May 20th?

image source PA Media
Image caption,

Bucket ventilation, even if it’s not – the garden on Downing Street

An e-mail from Mr. Johnson’s chief private secretary, Martin Reynolds, urging people to “make the most of the beautiful weather” was sent to a distribution list of about 100 people. However, the full list of beneficiaries was not published.

So why does it matter who was on the list?

Well, the names will show who knew about the party.

Could the invitation leave without the Prime Minister’s consent?

Downing Street said Mr Johnson did not see an email inviting employees for a drink.

But many Westminster observers are skeptical.

On Tuesday, Caroline Slocock, who worked in the private offices of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, told BBC Radio 4 that it was “unimaginable” that the prime minister did not know about such an invitation, especially from a close employee who used the word “we”.

Hannah White of the think-tank Institute for Government – a former secretary of the Committee on Standards in Public Life – said she believed the prime minister “had to” know about the incident.

Who else attended the party?

One more step is to find out who went to the meeting despite the lock. The BBC was told from sources in garden drinks that about 30 people were present, along with the prime minister and his wife.

Who went to the party will be key for the same reason as the invitee list, which shows who knew about the event.

But more importantly, the list of participants will show who decided to break the rules individually – and perhaps the law.

Couldn’t Mr. Johnson know about other parties under his own roof?

Downing Street itself is a complex series of interconnected houses that have evolved over the years into an unusual combination of living and working space.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak lives in an apartment above No. 10 Downing Street. Mr. Johnson, Carrie’s wife and their two young children live in a larger apartment above No. 11.

Is it possible that both men did not know about the meetings in the building that is their home and place of their work?

Can Downing Street employees drink at work?

The Civil Service Code does not mention alcohol or prohibit office drinking.

Peter Caldwell, who worked as a special government adviser from 2016 to 2020, told BBC News that before the pandemic, he often drank in Downing Street on Friday nights.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright, who wrote a book on the drinking culture in Westminster, says alcohol “has been a history of political life for centuries.”

“The drink amplifies the joy of political success and alleviates its disappointment. It moderately relaxes and exaggerates the imbalance.”

“The prime ministers struggled with this for years, from William Pitt Jr., a port addict, to Herbert Asquith, Winston Churchill, Wilson, and even Tony Blair, who described alcohol as a ‘prop’ in his memoirs.”

How many bottles of wine will fit in the trunk?

The latest revelation – published by telegraph – contains a detail that employees were allegedly sent to a nearby suitcase store, which was brought “filled with bottles of wine”.

How much can it be? After a very unscientific experiment – how big a suitcase is after all – we found that about 30 bottles or maybe one Nebuchadnezzar could fit in a medium to large suitcase.

Although it would be less if you wanted to stuff the bottles to avoid breakage.

And would there be room for snacks? Do you sacrifice a bottle of wine for packing chips for the whole family?

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