Tamara’s Take: Boris Johnson will have to explain the latest No 10 lockdown

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If Downing Street hoped to press the reset button this year after weeks of damaging allegations of lockdown breaches, the latest revelations are the most damaging yet.

The net appears, from what sources tell Sky News and other outlets, to be closing around the prime minister.

This is not another claim of unknown officials having a gathering on their own initiative; or something that can be passed off as a work meeting with a few glasses of wine.

Live COVID updates as Labour accuses government of ‘ignoring the rules put in place for the rest of us’

File photo dated 11/6/2021 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Johnson arriving for a reception at the Eden Project for G7 leaders, during the G7 summit in Cornwall. The Prime Minister and his wife are expecting a second child after she revealed the heartbreak of a miscarriage at the start of the year. In a statement on social media, Ms Johnson said the brother or sister to their first child Wilfred was due to arrive
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Carrie Johnson was said to also be at the party on 20 May 2020. File pic

We now have, revealed by Dominic Cummings in his blog on Friday, a drinks party organised specifically as a social event by the prime minister’s close aide Martin Reynolds; an email leaked to ITV as black-and-white evidence and eyewitnesses placing the PM and his wife among the dozens who attended.

It was May 2020, when we were all told to stay at home, park benches were cordoned off, people were unable to be with loved ones in their last moments.

Less than an hour before the event got going, at 6pm according to the email, cabinet minister Oliver Dowden was at the podium in No 10, chairing a press conference in which he made clear people should only see one other person outside their household, outside and at a two-metre distance.

Five days later, Boris Johnson told a member of the public who asked about lockdown breaches, to “speak to people yourself if you feel that they are not obeying the rules”.

There were 106,451 fixed penalty notices issued in England between March and October that year for lockdown breaches by the police.

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PM’s multiple lockdown party denials

Sue Gray, who is undertaking the investigation into Downing Street gatherings last year, needs to reopen her files.

But already, Tories know that the prime minister cannot hide behind the inquiry, and needs to provide answers about whether the reports are correct.

Ed Argar, who had the unenviable job of responding for the government this morning, stressed that – like most people – he spent this period at home glued to Zoom calls and said he could “understand why people will be upset and angry”.

This is a change of tune in itself. Last year Mr Dowden, his cabinet colleague, said he was sure an investigation would “vindicate the prime minister’s assertion” that no rules were broken. This no longer seems to be the message.

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