no 10 has apologised to buckingham palace after parties were held at downing street on the eve of prince philip's funeral, during lockdown last april.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said he was at his country residence Chequers on 16 April last year and had not been invited to the events.

He also refused to say if the apology to the Palace acknowledged that the gatherings were "social events" – which would have been in breach of Covid rules at the time.

Keir Starmer seized on the No 10 apology, saying : "This shows just how seriously Boris Johnson has degraded the office of prime minister.

"The Conservatives have let Britain down.

An apology isn't the only thing the prime minister should be offering the palace today.

The spokesman said : "It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No 10 has apologised to the Palace."

Further allegations of Downing Street parties taking place on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh's socially distanced funeral have been met with widespread anger across the political spectrum, bookending a turbulent week for Boris Johnson, who is facing renewed calls to resign.

The Queen, in mourning black, wearing a face mask and sitting alone to maintain social distancing, became one of the defining images of the national lockdown.

Carefully laid plans for his funeral, which had been revised over many years, were abandoned owing to the pandemic, with public elements unable to take place.

Incredible, when you think about it, that the ceremonial funeral of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh had fewer attendees than "Slacky"'s leaving do the night before.

For Sue Gray, investigating the seemingly endless parties held in Downing Street during lockdown must be rather like painting the Forth bridge.

Take his announcement this week that he told the BYOB party organiser, Martin Reynolds, "in writing" that it should not happen.

Reynolds has long been expected to be moved after Sue Gray's investigation, apparently to a Middle Eastern ambassadorship.

Not the greatest surprise, then, to see a voter in a TV vox pop judging that "Boris has lost his moral compass".

If things carry on at this rate, it won't be long before the Conservative party decides to Build Back Borisless.

For now, the most positive reading of Johnson ’ s situation is that he ’ s in the last chance saloon – but hey, at least that means there ’ s booze.

At the latest-to-be-discovered parties in April 2021, the drink was brought in in a suitcase for the thirsty spads and civil servants who were busy getting down.

Someone even broke little Wilf's swing.

The two noisy parties held that evening merged and splurged, inevitably, out into the Downing Street garden, and one shudders to imagine what those present might have got up to in the shrubbery.

One of the "gatherings" was hosted by James Slack, the director of communications, supposedly the chap in charge of image-making.

As Angela Eagle, the Labour MP with an impressively arid sense of humour, pointed out the other day in the Commons : "Perhaps it would be faster if Sue Gray were to investigate the days when there were not parties."

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment sign up to our free weekly Voices newsletter by clicking here Depressingly, the spin coming out of Downing Street – they just can not help themselves – is that Gray will conclude that the party attended by Johnson in the garden of No 10 on 20 May 2020, the one he was forced to fess up to, wasn't illegal, despite the fact that about 30 people were gathered together without being engaged in any key work beyond eating picnic eggs and getting through the rioja.

It does look like a large consignment of whitewash has been sent in to Whitehall to protect the prime minister.

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