Downing St held ‘wine time Fridays’ during lockdown
Downing Street staff are said to have held “wine-time” drinks gatherings on Friday evenings throughout the pandemic.
Boris Johnson encouraged aides to use the events to “let off steam” even though the rest of the population were facing severe restrictions on indoor socialising.
The Daily Mirror said the end of week meetings became such a fixture that staff bought a £142 drinks fridge and would head to a nearby Tesco with a suitcase to stock up on wine and beer.
According to the newspaper, wine-time Fridays’ were scheduled into the electronic calendars of around 50 No 10 staff between 4pm and 7pm every week.
They were a tradition before the pandemic, but continued throughout it even when restrictions banned people from mixing, it is claimed.
Sources went into detail about the events, reportedly telling the Mirror that the gatherings sometimes went on as late as midnight with up to two dozen aides drinking wine and beer and playing games like Pictionary.
The PM was said to have attended a ‘handful’ of the gatherings at points when indoor socialising was banned under lockdown rules.
One source is quoted as saying: ‘Boris used to stop by for a chat while they had a drink.
“It was on the way up to his flat and the door was usually open. He knew about it and encouraged it.”
The latest revelations come at the end of a week which has forced an apology from the Prime Minister to MPs and a grovelling apology from Downing Street to the Queen after it was revealed two parties were held in Downing Street on the night before Prince Philip’s funeral.
Mr Johnson is said to be plotting an overhaul at No 10 in order to keep his job as his future hangs in the balance.
The plan – reportedly dubbed ‘Operation Save Big Dog’ by the Prime Minister himself – includes drawing up a list of officials he wants to quit over the
Whitehall sources told The Independent that the blueprint includes a drive to work out which heads should roll when senior official Sue Gray publishes her potentially bombshell report on the Downing Street party scandal.
Dan Rosenfield, Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, and Martin Reynolds, his private secretary and author of the now infamous ‘BYOB’ email, have both been tipped as possible departures