Downing Road events: What number of wine bottles slot in a suitcase, and different questions

Downing Street parties: How many wine bottles fit in a suitcase, and other questions

2022-01-14 23:47:14

By Kate Whannel
BBC Information

Picture supply, PA Media

Hardly a day goes by with out one other revelation about Downing Road events throughout the Covid lockdowns. Every new bombshell leaves one other crater of questions on what was happening, the way it was allowed to occur, who knew and what occurs subsequent?

Beneath, we try and reply these questions and others:

Why are we solely studying of the events now?

The earliest allegation of a authorities lockdown gathering (to date) dates again to fifteen Could 2020. However studies of the events solely began showing within the media within the winter of 2021.

The Every day Mirror’s Pippa Crerar – who first broke the information about two events, in November, – mentioned she first heard rumours of Christmas events again in January 2021 however wasn’t in a position to substantiate them till months later.

Individuals leak tales to journalists for all types of causes – to break a political rival, for revenge, for enjoyable. However with out realizing the identification of the primary leaker, it’s laborious to say why they leaked and why they waited so lengthy.

What we do know is that the Mirror’s first story in November inspired others to return ahead with their very own get together experiences and nearly a month later new tales are nonetheless rising.

Had been these events work or social occasions?

Some had been social occasions – together with the 20 Could 2020 drinks attended by the prime minister, that led to his public apology this week. How do we all know? As a result of ITV obtained the e-mail that had invited workers to “convey your individual booze” to “socially distanced drinks within the No 10 backyard”.

Nonetheless, Boris Johnson has insisted he believed “implicitly that this was a piece occasion” arguing that the No 10 backyard was typically used “as an extension of the workplace”.

There have additionally been questions in regards to the nature of an occasion on 15 Could 2020. An image printed by the Guardian exhibits about 19 folks, together with Mr Johnson and his spouse, sitting within the backyard with bottles of wine and a cheeseboard. The prime minister mentioned this image confirmed “folks at work, speaking about work”.

Will we hear about extra events?

The variety of tales swirling round have led some to marvel if there was a single day throughout the pandemic when a celebration wasn’t going down in No 10. A minimum of 10 alleged gatherings, in Downing Road or authorities departments, have come to gentle to date. Should you’re a particulars particular person, here is the complete listing

Will there be extra? If the final month is something to go by, then most likely.

What can Sue Grey’s report cowl and rule on?

Following the primary few studies of events, the prime minister ordered an investigation to ascertain the info.

Many Conservative MPs have mentioned they may look forward to the outcomes of that inquiry – being led by senior civil servant Sue Grey – earlier than passing judgement on the prime minister. Ms Grey’s report is more likely to be a largely factual account of events held in Downing Road.

Catherine Haddon, of the Institute for Authorities suppose tank, says Ms Grey is unlikely to assign particular person blame, however her report “may refer disciplinary motion to others”. It might contact on the position of the prime minister, however it isn’t Ms Grey’s place to evaluate his behaviour, she provides, though the “naked info alone” could also be damning.

Did the prime minister or others break the regulation?

Sue Grey can’t rule on whether or not lockdown legal guidelines had been damaged – however the query is essential to the prime minister’s future. If the inquiry uncovers proof of behaviour that’s doubtlessly a prison offence, it will likely be referred to the Metropolitan Police and the inquiry shall be paused, in line with its phrases of reference.

What’s Dominic Cummings’ position in all of this?

Picture supply, Reuters
Picture caption,

Dominic Cummings – game-keeper turned poacher

Half-accuser, part-accused.

The PM’s senior ex-aide-turned-massive-thorn-in-his-side was one of many first authorities figures to be accused of breaking Covid guidelines. He drove from London to County Durham on the top of the primary lockdown, later arguing that the transfer was prompted by safety considerations.

Extra not too long ago he has been making allegations about rule-breaking in No 10 throughout the pandemic – together with writing in a weblog in regards to the drinks on 20 Could 2020.

Mr Cummings says he warned on the time that the occasion “gave the impression to be in opposition to the principles”.

Who was invited to the backyard drinks on 20 Could?

Picture supply, PA Media
Picture caption,

Air flow by the bucket-load, although that is not the purpose – the Downing Road backyard

An electronic mail from Mr Johnson’s principal personal secretary, Martin Reynolds, inviting folks to “profit from the stunning climate”, was despatched to a distribution listing of round 100 folks. However the full listing of recipients has not been printed.

So why does it matter who was on the listing?

Effectively, the names will present who knew in regards to the get together going down.

May an invite exit with out with PM’s permission?

Downing Road has mentioned Mr Johnson didn’t see the e-mail inviting workers to the drinks.

However many Westminster-watchers are sceptical.

On Tuesday, Caroline Slocock, who labored within the personal workplaces of Margaret Thatcher and John Main, informed BBC Radio 4 it was “inconceivable” the PM wasn’t conscious of such an invitation, particularly one from an in depth workers member utilizing the phrase “we”.

Hannah White, of the Institute for Authorities suppose tank – a former secretary to the Committee on Requirements in Public Life, mentioned she believed the PM “needed to have” recognized in regards to the occasion.

Who else attended the get together?

One of many subsequent steps is to search out out who went to the gathering, regardless of the lockdown . The BBC has been informed from sources on the backyard drinks that round 30 folks had been current, alongside the PM and his spouse.

Who went to the get together shall be key for a similar cause because the invite listing, exhibiting who knew in regards to the occasion.

However extra importantly, the attendee listing will present who determined to interrupt the principles – and maybe the regulation – individually.

May Mr Johnson actually not have recognized about different events below his personal roof?

Downing Road itself is a fancy collection of interconnected homes turned, over time, into an uncommon mixture of residing and dealing areas.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak lives within the flat above No 10 Downing Road. Mr Johnson, spouse Carrie and their two younger youngsters dwell within the bigger flat above No 11.

Is it believable that each males would have been unaware of gatherings within the constructing that’s each their residence and their place of job?

Are Downing Road workers allowed to drink at work?

The civil servant administration code would not point out alcohol or prohibit consuming within the workplace.

Peter Caldwell – who labored as a authorities particular adviser between 2016 and 2020 – informed the BBC Information that earlier than the pandemic he would typically have a drink in Downing Road on Friday evenings.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright, who has written a ebook in regards to the consuming tradition in Westminster, says alcohol “has sloshed by the historical past of political life for hundreds of years”.

“Drink enhances the exhilaration of political success and numbs its disappointments. It unknots moderately and unbalances in extra.

“Prime ministers have grappled with this for years, from the port-dependent William Pitt the Youthful, by to Herbert Asquith, Winston Churchill, Wilson and even Tony Blair, who described alcohol as a “prop” in his memoir.”

What number of wine bottles can you slot in a suitcase?

The newest revelation – printed by the Telegraph – consists of the element that workers had been reportedly despatched to a close-by store with a suitcase, that was introduced again “full of bottles of wine”.

What number of may that be? Following a really unscientific experiment – how large is a suitcase, in spite of everything – we discovered we might match roughly round 30 bottles, or probably one Nebuchadnezzar, in a medium-to-large suitcase.

Though it could be much less in case you needed to pad out the bottles to keep away from breakage.

And would there be room for snacks? Do you sacrifice a bottle of wine for a family-sized pack of crisps?

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