Rishi Sunak’s Treasury Admits Holding ‘Office Drinks’ During Lockdown
Officials in Rishi Sunak’s Treasury have admitted to partaking in ‘office drinks’ while the UK was in lockdown.
It comes amid heightened outrage at the Conservatives over this week’s Downing Street Christmas party scandal, with the government accused of enjoying several gatherings – and joking about the lack of social distancing – while the general public wasn’t allowed to see their families for their own festivities.
While the chancellor of the exchequer has denied attending any parties himself, Sunak said he couldn’t answer for his advisors and other officials in the Treasury.
While the aforementioned parties are believed to have taken place around December 18 last year, around two dozen civil servants in the Treasury held office drinks on November 25, as per The Independent.
This was the day of the autumn statement, and also came when non-essential retail, leisure, pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues were still closed, and people were still being advised to work from home.
Speaking to the publication, a Treasury spokesperson claimed its officials have ‘followed government guidance throughout the pandemic… we are not aware of any events in breach of government regulations and the Treasury did not organise an in-person departmental party last Christmas.’
However, a spokesperson also told The Times, ‘In line with the guidance at the time, a number of staff came into the office to work on the Spending Review 2020. We have been made aware that a small number of those staff had impromptu drinks around their desks after the event.’
This year’s Christmas party in Downing Street has since been cancelled amid concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant, as well as the backlash to last year’s ‘business meeting with cheese and wine’, as former adviser Allegra Stratton described it.
The Met Police has also become the subject of controversy once more for refusing to investigate the party allegations, describing them as ‘retrospective’.
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