UK’s Johnson faces lockdown-breach claims over garden party

AP:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a wave of public and political outrage on Tuesday over allegations that he and his staff flouted coronavirus lockdown rules by holding a garden party in 2020 while Britons were barred by law from mingling outside the home.

Opposition politicians called for a police investigation after broadcaster ITV published a leaked email invitation to “socially distanced drinks” in the garden of the prime minister’s Downing Street office and residence in May 2020. The email from the prime minister’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, was sent to dozens of people and urged attendees to “bring your own booze.”

The event was scheduled for May 20, 2020 — the same day the government at a televised news conference reminded people they could only meet up with one person outside their household. London’s Metropolitan Police force also published reminders about the rules that day.

The police force said Tuesday it was “in contact with” the government over the party claims, which follow allegations of several other rule-breaking gatherings in Downing Street during the pandemic.

The opposition Labour Party demanded that Johnson answer questions about the allegations in Parliament — but the government sent a junior minister, Michael Ellis, to face lawmakers instead. Ellis apologized “for the upset that these allegations have caused” but said he could not comment further because an investigation was underway.

Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said Johnson’s “absence speaks volumes.”

“He can run but he can’t hide,” she said.

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