Transport secretary Grant Shapps has this morning said he is “furious” with people who defied lockdown rules.
Following No 10’s confirmation that the prime minister celebrated his birthday with colleagues on 19 June 2020 when indoor gatherings were banned, Shapps denied that Mr Johnson had breached rules.
ITV News revealed yesterday evening that Mr Johnson had been presented with a cake in the Cabinet room , while attendees, including interior designer Lulu Lytle sang “happy birthday”.
A No 10 spokesperson then confirmed Mr Johnson attended but added that he was present for under 10 minutes and that staff gathered “briefly”.
There are also claims, rejected by No 10, that the PM held an indoor gathering of family and friends later that day.
Shapps insisted that the prime minister “didn’t organise a party,” but “someone presented a cake to him”.
When quizzed over whether Ms Lytle, who had been working on the Downing St flat refurbishments, had been present, Mr Shapps said: “I don’t know, maybe it was a meeting.”
“It was his birthday and these are people that he worked with all the time. I don’t seek to defend it, this is for Sue Gray to decide on whether this was appropriate,” he told Sky News.
“I think we can be pretty clear [that] the Prime Minister didn’t present a cake to himself. I’ve explained to you [that] I’m furious with everybody who broke the rules and a lot of different people will find that perhaps they transgressed the rules unwittingly during periods of lockdowns.”
“I feel personally very upset when I see stories about lockdowns being broken in any form,” he explained, going on: “many people have found that they crossed the wrong side of that line at different times. I understand that, it upsets me. The Prime Minister’s already said that he takes full responsibility for everything that happened in Downing Street.”
Shapps stressed that the Cabinet room was regularly used for meetings during lockdown restrictions, and said that the Cabinet Office’s deputy permanent secretary Sue Gray’s impending report “will be able to get to the bottom of” the matter.