An Exhaustive List of Number 10 Lockdown Parties, Ranked from Bad to Worse

Obviously, none of these events were actually "fun", right?
Boris Johnson drinking a pint at a pub
Boris Johnson in a pre-pandemic visit to a pub in Wolverhampton. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

News broke on Tuesday that Boris Johnson is alleged to have attended yet another lockdown party, this time in January 2021, at the then-peak of infections. The latest in a countless number of accounts of “prosecco-fuelled” leaving dos has left exhausted people both up and down the country, and across the globe, asking the same question: Who cares? Rihanna is pregnant.


The extended soap opera of ‘partygate’ – surely as good an advert as any for retiring the suffix ‘-gate’ – has dragged on for two months now. Everything was supposed to come to a head on Monday with the release of civil servant Sue Gray’s long-awaited report, but the report itself is lacklustre. With her hands tied by the ongoing Met investigation, the whole 12-page redacted report is the ultimately the political scandal equivalent of handing in your coursework in size 16 font and hoping your teacher won’t notice you’re 600 below the word count.

All of the gatherings investigated by Gray have sort of blurred into one at this point, and none of them could be accurately described as “fun”. But these are the most famous parties to have involved a Sue since #susanalbumparty - and, therefore, are surely worth interrogating. Thus, I have ranked them from bad to worse, although it should be noted that no matter where they place, all of these events are lame enough to force us to ask the question: ‘Is this really what you risked your career over’?

BAD – 15 May 2020: “I thought it was a work event”

Nineteen people, mostly men in T.M. Lewin’s finest, were pictured reclining in the Downing Street garden, top buttons undone, little red bald patches out. The image itself is very “fox hunting meets JeansAndSheux”, plus they seem to be drinking red wine on what was definitely a very hot day, which is a recipe for a nap-fest. Boris and Carrie Johnson are there, along with Dominic Cummings, before he started throwing hands at Boris Johnson online like a political Ablisa. Slight drama from this one as the damning photo appears to have been taken from Rishi Sunak’s office.


REALLY BAD – 18th December 2020: No 10 Christmas party

This is the event that kicked the whole scandal off around 3,000 years ago – the “cheese and wine” one that Allegra Stratton was forced to resign over. The most upsetting thing about this specific event is that it has ruined cheese and wine. Cheese and wine are objectively two of the nicest things to have, both separately and when you buy them and put them together on a little board, and it’s upsetting that the constant repetition of the phrase in the media over the last two months has made “cheese and wine” into a phrase, like “NFT” or “Hey, this is Che Diaz”, that I could happily never hear again.

BYOBAD – 20th May 2020: ‘BYOB’ in No 10 garden

Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited over 100 people to “make the most of the lovely weather” in the Downing Street garden, adding that it was BYOB. I’m all for BYOB if it’s a house party or an Indian restaurant, but if you’re the centre of government you can at least afford to cough up for some of Aldi own brand Pimms.

GETTING WORSE – 19th June 2020: Boris Johnson’s surprise birthday party

This short surprise celebration with picnic food and a cake supposedly broke the rules as it wasn’t attended just by colleagues but also by the woman renovating Johnson’s flat, Lulu Lytle, and thus can’t be classed as a work event. Lytle is, as far as I can tell, a bit like Trinny and Susannah but for wallpaper. This one also went viral in the minor sense after Tory MP Conor Burns used the phrase “ambushed by cake” in defence of the Prime Minister. “Ambushed by cake” is the kind of phrase, like “the sea was closed”, which is beloved by a particular set of dads on Twitter but actually isn’t that funny. 


WE’RE REALLY IN ‘WORSE’ TERRITORY NOW – 15th December 2020: Boris Johnson hosts Zoom quiz while joined in the office by colleagues

How much are you betting that the music round was just audio clips from various Queen’s Speeches from Christmases past?

FUCKING HELL THEY’RE STILL DOING ZOOM QUIZZES – 17th December 2020: Christmas quiz 2: Here We Go Again

This is only noteworthy as the event that forced the pre-Sue Gray Sue Gray, Simon Case, to step down from heading the investigation into illegal office parties for… attending his own illegal office party. The invite billed it as a “Christmas party”, but government insiders said it was a virtual quiz and that Case only passed through the event on the way to his office. Either way, Christmas quizzes are worse than normal quizzes because you’re probably hearing Cliff Richard’s “Millennium Prayer” at some point, so you know this one was bad too.

TERRIBLE – 13th November 2020: Party at the Johnson flat

This is the party at Number 11 the night that Dominic Cummings left his role as a SPAD. No one can say for sure whether the party was to celebrate the departure of Cummings, Carrie Johnson’s known nemesis, but The Telegraph reports that ‘The Winner Takes It All’ was heard from the Johnsons’ flat. First of all, this is not even in the top ten ABBA songs. Secondly, if you are going to play it, at least do the Meryl Streep version with the scarf.


SCRAPING THE BARREL – 18th June 2020: Cabinet Office gathering for departure of official / 17th December 2020: Two separate leaving events at the Cabinet Office and Downing Street / 27th November 2020: No 10 leaving do for No 10 aide Cleo Watson / 10th December 2020: Department for Education Christmas event

None worth mentioning. Party equivalents of an X Factor contestant good enough to make it to judges’ houses but not to the live shows, lost to the annals of time.

OFFICIAL DIRT WORST – 16th April 2021 - Not one, but two leaving drinks

My brain is most able to compute this as “a party” in that it’s the one with the suitcase full of booze, which shows at least a light commitment to the idea of a night out. This particular party got so out of hand that one of the drunk revellers sat on (!) and broke (!!) baby Wilf Johnson’s swing. Crazy! Like an episode of Euphoria, but with a cast who grew up in Chipping Norton. This is the party that drew some of the most significant ire for being on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, but personally I find these events particularly egregious as it was the night before my birthday and for that I believe I am owed a personal apology by Boris Johnson.


The release of the Gray report was supposed to give us something to look forward to, and something which we’ve been deprived of over the last two years: gossip. But those expecting the report to uncover some at least partly-juicy details have been disappointed to hear that almost all of these events – as well as being deeply offensive to a population that sacrificed so much over the course of the last two years – sound, for want of a better word, shit. It appears that we forgot to reflect on one one crucial thing: that the people involved in these parties’ idea of fun is mooing like cows at each other in Parliament, and therefore wouldn’t know an actual laugh if it put them in national lockdown