No 10 denies Boris Johnson said aides objecting to ‘bring your own booze’ party were ‘overreacting’

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No 10 has denied that Boris Johnson told aides objecting to the “bring your own booze” garden party he attended that they were “overreacting” to the staging of the event.

The allegation – put forward by Dominic Lawson, a newspaper columnist – would contradict the prime minister’s claim that he did not realise the gathering was a party.

On Sunday, Downing Street said it was “untrue that the prime minister was warned about the event in advance” and that he “believed implicitly that this was a work event”.

Now his spokesman has widened that denial to insist he at no point “defended the event” or told any aides that “they were overreacting”.

Asked if Mr Lawson’s claims – including that Mr Johnson called Martin Reynolds, his private secretary “my loyal Labrador” – were accurate, the spokesman replied: “No”.

“Those claims of being forewarned are not true, as we made clear over the weekend,” he added.

The denial comes as Conservative MPs mull over growing evidence that voters want Mr Johnson to quit even before civil servant Sue Gray concludes her inquiry into the rash of lockdown-busting parties.

No 10 refused to say whether the prime minister has been interviewed by her, but said the “full” report will be published when it is ready, either later this week or next week.

Mr Johnson is “no longer required to reduce contact”, after either his wife Carrie or one of his children tested positive for Covid, because their period of isolation has ended.

However, it is unclear whether he will be seen in public for the first time in nearly a week, before prime minister’s questions in the Commons on Wednesday.

Asked if Mr Johnson refers to himself as “big dog”, as he battles to save his job – as The Independent has been told – the spokesman replied: “Certainly not that I’m aware of.”

In his Sunday Times column, Mr Lawson claimed that Mr Johnson was “warned, at the time, that to go ahead with the party, trestle tables and all, was in obvious breach of the prevailing regulations”.

“I spoke to a former Downing Street official who said at least two people had told the PM, after seeing the emailed invitation from his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, that this was “a party” and should be immediately cancelled.

“I was told that Johnson’s dismissive response was to say they were “overreacting” and to praise Reynolds as “my loyal Labrador”.

Downing Street also defended Mr Johnson “commuting” between Chequers and No 10 during March 2020, when Carrie was pregnant, when guidance said people should not travel for non-essential reasons.

“Mrs Johnson was heavily pregnant and had been placed in a vulnerable category and advised to minimise social contacts,” the spokesman said.

“So, in line with clinical guidance and to minimise the risk to her they were based at Chequers during that period, with the prime minister commuting to Downing Street to work.”

The guidance on not travelling to second homes did not come in until March 22, “at which point the prime minister and his wife were already based in Chequers”.

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