Boris Johnson made the decision to implement Tier 4 Covid lockdowns – ruining the Christmas plans of millions of Britons – as senior officials partied all night in Downing St, leaked WhatsApp messages show.
On Dec. 18, 2020, a No. 10 Christmas party raged, with officials spilling wine on the walls of the press office and revelers leaving the carnage to attend “official meetings” according to Sue Gray’s Partygate report.
All the while, the then prime minister was sitting in the cabinet room drawing up plans to announce that ordinary citizens in risk areas should stay at home.
The timing of the celebration was revealed by timestamps on WhatsApp messages exchanged between then Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Simon Case, the then Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet, according to The Daily Telegraph who received the messages.
MailOnline has contacted No. 10, the Cabinet Office and Boris Johnson for comment.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, at 10 Downing Street on December 19, 2020 in London, England
On Dec. 18, 2020, a No. 10 Christmas party raged, with officials spilling wine on the walls of the press office and revelers leaving the carnage to attend “official meetings” according to Sue Gray’s Partygate report (Johnson pictured at an enclosed party)
Hours after the number 10 celebration on Dec. 18, Johnson addressed the nation, telling people that they were facing tighter restrictions and that they could no longer travel.
“Firstly, we will introduce new restrictions in the most affected areas – particularly those parts of London, the South East and the East of England that are currently in Tier 3,” the then Prime Minister said.
“These areas will be in a new tier 4…that means residents in those areas will have to stay at home, subject to limited exceptions set out in law.
“Second, we are issuing new travel advice… We are asking everyone, at all levels, to stay local.”
This advice came less than 24 hours after officials had booze in Downing St halls – and just three days after Johnson told the nation that ‘it wouldn’t be right to penalize people who have made plans and just want to spend time with their loved ones (at Christmas).’
The sickening revelation comes as reports revealed that Matt Hancock said the government needs to “get hard on the police” to crack down on lockdown violators and gave senior police officers “their marching orders” to enforce restrictions.
Hancock made the second comment days before No 10 staff held an unauthorized party on Downing Street. The leaked texts to The Daily Telegraph also reveal that senior officers were dragged to No 10 to be told to be more stern with the public.
This was despite ministers at the time claiming that the police were operationally independent from the government.
On August 28, 2020, Case asked Hancock, “Who actually provides enforcement?”
Government must ‘clash hard on police’ to ensure they crack down on lockdown violators, Matt Hancock said during the pandemic
This despite ministers at the time claiming that the police were operationally independent from the government (file image)
Hancock replied, “I think we’re going to have to crack down hard on the police.”
Following a rally on January 10, 2021, a week after England entered its third national lockdown, Hancock texted about how “the plodders got their marching orders.”
The meeting was attended by Boris Johnson, then Home Secretary Priti Patel and Case, who is now the cabinet secretary.
On January 14, a meeting was held in No. 10 to mark the departure of two Heads of Cabinet. The Metropolitan Police later said that this event was against the rules in force at the time.
It also emerged that Johnson feared he had ‘blinked too soon’ by plunging Britain into a second lockdown during the pandemic.
The then prime minister made the comment in private messages after being told that the modeling work he had been shown to predict deaths was “completely wrong”.
The reports, leaked by journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who was a ghostwriter of Hancock’s Pandemic Diaries, show that he expressed the fear on November 1, 2020, a day after announcing that a national lockdown would take effect a few days later.
Despite his fears, the lockdown continued and lasted for a month.
The messages raise new questions about whether ministers made decisions about restricting people’s freedoms based on science, as they have always maintained. It also raises the prospect that people have been forced to adhere to draconian restrictions for longer than necessary.
In a message on November 1 of that year, Johnson said he had held an online conference call with scientists Dr. Raghib Ali and Dr. Carl Heneghan.
He told people in the message group that Dr Heneghan had said that “the death modeling you’ve been shown is already very wrong” because it was out of date because it was drafted three weeks earlier.
The previous day, Johnson had announced an impending national lockdown, justifying the decision by citing public modeling that 4,000 people could die daily without action. But this data projected what could happen if restrictions are not imposed.
The then Prime Minister shared a link in the exchanges suggesting modeling was behind by a factor of four, with a newer Cambridge study suggesting 1,000 deaths per day.
Referring to the idea that ministers could be criticized for announcing a lockdown too early, Johnson wrote: “The attack will be that we blinked too quickly.” Earlier reports show how Johnson was told that lifting curbs ahead of schedule was inconsistent with what the public wanted.
A message Johnson sent to Hancock on June 6, 2020, said he was “thinking hard about June 15.” On June 15, ministers planned to open non-essential retail premises. But Johnson’s post suggested he wanted to go further and lift more restrictions.
However, he was warned not to do so by his senior media advisers Lee Cain and James Slack. Johnson said they “still think the whole package will get ahead of public opinion.”