Downing Street parties: Boris Johnson 'Wine time Fridays' for No10 every week of Covid pandemic
Boris Johnson encouraged No10 staff to 'let off steam' during the weekly alcoholic-induced nights, despite restrictions such as indoor socialising being strictly banned at the time, according to the latest report from the Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar.
Wine time Fridays are a long-standing Downing Street tradition, to help staff wind down at the end of the week, however, given restrictions at the time, it was understood that they would be prohibited.
Yet, sources claim the event continued many Fridays in 2020 and 2021 despite restrictions being introduced to help curb the Covid surge.
Sources told The Mirror that Boris Johnson regularly witnessed the gathering and a £142 drinks fridge was invested in to keep their bottles of white wine, Prosecco and beer cool.
It understood the event even saw Dominic Cummings ‘staying for a glass of wine’ after he walked out of No10 on November 13, 2020.
The news comes as Sheffield Council chief executive and former director general of the Covid Taskforce Kate Josephs admitted she attended her own leaving drinks in the Cabinet Office while strict lockdown restrictions were in place.
And the revelations also follow reports that Downing Street aides took a suitcase to fill up with booze and bring back to Downing Street on the night before Prince Philip’s funeral. According to the sources, this ritual was not a one-off.
Sources claimed that aides took turns on Fridays to visit the local Tesco Metro in Westminster with a wheely suitcase to fill up the 34-bottle capacity fridge.
At the time rules banned two or more people from different households from meeting indoors, unless “reasonably necessary” for work purposes.
Downing Street today apologised to Buckingham Palace after it was revealed more parties were held in No10 the day before Prince Philip’s funeral last Spring.
Captain Steve Higham, then the PM’s defence adviser, was considered to be a ‘regular attendee’ by sources.
Sources said the gatherings on occasion went on as late as midnight with up to two dozen aides drinking wine and beer and playing games like Pictionary.
They were particularly popular from autumn 2020 to the Spring of 2021 when staff were “fatigued” with the tough Covid restrictions, sources said.
Yet it was only when restrictions began to ease that their popularity faded as the country began opening up and staff no longer had to rely on them for social interaction.