Downing Street party: Tory MP says he is 'embarrassed'
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Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has clashed with BBC radio host Nicky Campbell after attempting to defend Downing Street parties amid the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. Mr Fabricant was challenged after appearing to suggest Boris Johnson’s staff and key aides were “key workers’ and then able to attend the garden party in May 2020.
Mr Fabricant told the BBC Radio 5 Live host: “I’m embarrassed for the party because maybe people feel very, very angry about this.
“I understand their anger but my point of coming on to your programme today is just to say, look, there’s a wider context of this, and the context is this was not spreading for contagion.
“These were people who were already working together and meeting outside in a controlled people area part of the office.”
Mr Campbell questioned” “So if they think it’s okay they can disobey?
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He asked the other guest: “Are you a key worker, Helen?”
“I was, I am retired now,” she said
Mr Campbell continued: “You were a key worker, I’m not quite sure about your point, Michael about these were key workers.
“Well, there are designated key workers in law,” argued the Tory MP.
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“I was a designate, I am a designated key worker in law and Helen was a designated key worker in law,” snapped the host.
Mr Fabricant argued: Well I’m not arguing the legal point Nick so you can carry on like this as much as you like, but that’s for others, the Metropolitan Police and Sue Grey to determine.”
A screenshot surfaced showing an email from a senior aide to the Prime Minister inviting staff to party in the garden behind No 10 during England’s first lockdown in May 2020.
Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, sent the email to more than 100 Downing Street employees inviting them to “make the most of the lovely weather” in the garden.
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England was under tough coronavirus restrictions banning groups from meeting socially outdoors when the message was sent.
Mr Johnson refused to say whether he was at the event when questioned by reporters on Monday.
The latest row over Whitehall parties and Mr Johnson’s alleged attendance was seized on by Labour.
Sir Keir Starmer said: “Boris Johnson, your deflections and distractions are absurd, not only did you know about the parties in Downing Street, you attended them. Stop lying to the British public. It’s time to finally come clean.”
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