Ian Blackford: Govt is 'sticking two fingers up' at Brits over wine and cheese gathering

20 December 2021, 22:14

Ian Blackford has criticised Boris Johnson.
Ian Blackford has criticised Boris Johnson. Picture: Alamy
Gina Davidson

By Gina Davidson

Boris Johnson and his government are "sticking two fingers up" at the British public, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has claimed.

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The MP criticised the Prime Minister saying there was "one rule for them and another for the rest of us" after a photograph emerged of socialising in the garden of No10 in May 2020 - at a time when people could only meet up with one other person outdoors.

The photo shows Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, Dominic Cummings and others drinking wine and eating cheese on a warm evening. They don't appear to be two metres apart, which was the guidance at the time.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told LBC's Nick Ferrari that the garden of No10 was a "place of work" and was used "for work meetings".

He said the image was taken after a press conference from Mr Johnson and having "something to drink" in the garden was "consistent with the rules".

Speaking to Lisa Aziz on LBC News, Mr Blackford said: "I'm just stunned with what Dominic Raab has said, they are treating us all like fools. Put into context there are more people sitting drinking in that garden than would have been permitted to attend a funeral at that point.

"Folk are pretty angry about this and the fact the government is seeking to detract from this, to say this wasn't a party… there were no business papers there, there was a drinks trolley in that garden.

"We need to get to the bottom of this, it needs to be investigated properly."

Read more: No new Covid rules but PM warns 'we won't hesitate to take action to protect public'

Read more: PM: No10 cheese and wine do was 'meeting of people at work, talking about work'

Mr Blackford said it wasn't good enough that a civil servant was investigating the Downing Street breaches of Covid guidelines, including the Christmas parties which were allegedly held last December.

He called for an independent judge-led inquiry and added: "People are rightly disgusted. When they were doing the right thing, wanting to keep everyone else safe, we've got a government which, I hate to say it, is effectively sticking two fingers up at the rest of us.

"It's one rule for them, another for the rest of us."

Mr Blackford also urged the Prime Minister to meet with the heads of the devolved governments after he failed to attend Sunday's COBRA meeting.

Read more: Covid staff shortages: Natural History Museum and Edinburgh Castle among hotspots to shut

The Scottish Government is seeking "clarity" over £440m pledged by the Treasury to help it tackle the spread of Omicron.

He said: "We need to make sure we have the financial resources which might impact businesses and individuals that they can put in place to mitigate for that.

"It's disappointing a COBRA meeting took place, called by the Prime Minister, and the first ministers of the devolved nations were on that and there was no sign of him or the Chancellor.

"The Scottish Government has asked the government to clarify if this is to come out of our existing budget… that means cuts have got to take place elsewhere.

"That means you're looking to take money away from other areas, education for example, that is not a situation we should be in."

On potential further restrictions, he added: "No10 has got to come clean about what it's planning. Let's be honest with everyone.

"No-one wants additional restrictions, but we have a duty to keep people safe."