Boris Johnson said it was ‘reasonable’ for people to call the police about Animal House-style parties during lockdown, just months after attending a ‘bring your own booze’ event at Downing Street.
The prime minister issued an apology yesterday, January 12, after it emerged that more than 100 Downing Street staff had been invited to have drinks in the garden at the height of lockdown in May 2020.
Johnson offered his ‘heartfelt apologies’, though claimed during Prime Minister’s Questions that he ‘believed implicitly that this was a work event’, and that ‘with hindsight’ he should have ‘sent everyone back inside’.
Members of both the public and the government have called on Johnson to resign for breaking the rules that were so clearly set out by the government just minutes before the party began, and the prime minister himself admitted in September 2020 that authorities should be aware if people were breaking the rules by holding parties.
Speaking to The Sun, Johnson said at the time that he had ‘never much been in favour of sneak culture’ – a claim which appears to contradict his earlier decision to attend a gathering that broke lockdown rules.
He spoke after lockdown rules had been relaxed to allow gatherings of up to six people, as opposed to just two people who were allowed to meet outside at the time of the Downing Street party.
In reference to those who suspected others may have been breaking lockdown rules, he continued:
What people should do in the first instance is, obviously if they are concerned, is raise it with their friends and neighbours.
But I think what is reasonable for anyone to do is if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of a neighbours’ activities, if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health, then it’s reasonable for the authorities to know.
Animal House is a 1978 film about a trouble-making fraternity, which features a huge toga party scene including alcohol and a live band – admittedly more extravagant than the Downing Street gathering, but still an example of what would have been illegal, nonetheless.
Home Secretary Priti Patel also supported the idea of reporting those breaking the rules, telling Sky News at the time she would ‘call the police’ if she saw something that she thought ‘was inappropriate’.
After admitting to his involvement in the party, Johnson argued that an inquiry into the events would provide a solution to the matter.
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