A bombshell email shows employees at Number 10 were invited to bring a bottle to a drinks party while the public was told only to meet in pairs outside.
Witnesses reportedly said 40 staff including Boris Johnson and his wife attended on May 20, according to ITV News.
The accusation puts the prime minister in the middle of a new backlash at alleged rule-breaking in the pandemic.
The SNP said the Conservative has “no moral authority” and should leave power.
“Boris Johnson must come clean and admit whether he attended, or was aware of, this Covid rule-breaking party in his own back garden,” SNP Westminster Ian Blackford warned.
“People will find it utterly outrageous that while the rest of us were banned from public gatherings, the most powerful people in the Tory government were boozing up at No 10 Downing Street – proving yet again, that it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”
Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”
– From the e-mail to Downing Street staff
The email published by ITV News on Tuesday evening was said to have been sent to 100 people including the prime minister and his wife in May 2020.
The invite appears to have been sent by the PM’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds.
In it, Mr Reynolds allegedly wrote:
“After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”
The email is the latest claim of lockdown-busting behaviour to engulf the UK Government leadership.
It is linked to a party when the country was in lockdown with legal restrictions on social gatherings.
Earlier that day, UK minister Oliver Dowden had told people to only meet in pairs outdoors.
‘Serious questions to answer’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the prime minister would have “serious questions to answer” if found to have attended a lockdown-breaking party.
“The Prime Minister has lost huge authority with the public because of these allegations of parties in Downing Street,” he said.
“To stand at a press conference, instructing the country to comply with restrictions – which really impacted families across the country – whilst at the same time there’s emerging evidence of parties in Downing Street does diminish his authority, his moral authority, to ask others to comply with those rules.”
The Prime Minister has full confidence in his team.”
– PM’s spokesman
Downing Street has denied that the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary is to be moved to another post following claims he invited staff to drinks in the No 10 garden in May 2020 in apparent breach of Covid rules.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Reynolds was staying in his current position.
“The Prime Minister has full confidence in his team. There is no change in that post,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman refused to be drawn on reports that Boris Johnson had attended the event.
“There is an independent process going on to look into this led by Sue Gray and I can’t comment further while that is taking place.”