The Prime Minister must go, say grieving families

No 10 lockdown party: fury of those kept from dying loved ones

Friday, 14th January — By Charlotte Chambers

John Morgan and his wife

John and Maureen Morgan died within a week of each other from Covid at the Whittington last year

GRIEVING family members who have lost loved ones in the pandemic are calling on Boris Johnson to resign – describing his actions as a “disgrace” in the wake of the Downing Street garden party scandal.

The Prime Minister admitted on Wednesday for the first time that he did attend a gathering in May 2020 but said he believed it to be a “work event”. At the time, the public had been told they were only allowed to meet one other person outside due to coronavirus restrictions.

The invitation to the garden event went out to more than 100 people and said they should “BYOB” – bring your own booze – and that it was a chance to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

Relatives of those who died alone in hospital without anybody to hold their hand have spoken of their anger at what they see as hypocrisy.

Jason Morgan, who lost both his ­parents to Covid within a week of each other, said: “I wasn’t allowed in hospital and they weren’t allowed a proper funeral. We’ve got people who make the rules but don’t care about the rules.

“People might now start saying, ‘Why should we bother [to follow the rules] when they don’t?’”

John Morgan, 81, and his wife Maureen, 83, who lived close to Finsbury Park, died at the Whittington Hospital last year.

“Should Boris Johnson resign? That’s a tough one,” said their son.

“Even if he left, will it make any difference? They all have the same attitude. Does it matter who else comes in? Who can you trust now?”

He added: “It has made me angry and it’s frustrating, knowing I couldn’t go to visit my parents in hospital, and they [Downing Street] are having parties in back gardens. Everyone who went to that party is to blame. The buck stops with him [the PM], but what about everyone who was there?”

He will mark the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death on Wednesday by visiting her at the crematorium, and his father the following Wednesday.

As Mr Johnson’s future became the subject of intense speculation, many that the Tribune spoke to this week in Islington had a simple demand: “Boris must go.”

One devastated Islington mother, who lost her son just weeks before the garden event, but who wished to remain anonymous to protect her daughter and grandson from further upset, said she was in an undertaker’s office organising her son’s funeral on the day Mr Johnson was at the party.

Boris Johnson apologises during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday

She said: “Everyone was following protocol – shielding and the like. He was sitting in his garden with his wine and cheese and biscuits while we were in mourning.”

Referring to Mr Johnson’s apology, made during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, she said it “wouldn’t cut it”, adding: “He’s a coward who’s passing the buck. He should step down ASAP. He’s hurt a lot of bereaved families with his lies.”

Mr Johnson had told MPs he “believed implicitly that this was a work event” but admitted there were “millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way”.

Another woman from Islington, whose father died in February last year, described the Prime Minister as a “clown” and likened his leadership to that of “a child running the country”. She also called on Mr Johnson to resign.

She told how her father died in February 2021 after falling ill around Christmas and being admitted to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead on December 28 – his family were only permitted to ­visit him for the last 20 minutes of his life and had to be dressed in full PPE.

After he died, they hugged each other in the protective clothing, and only had a proper wake for him in October when curbs were eased. A restricted funeral in February – a ticketed event that allowed just 30 people into the crematorium – meant that hundreds more who wanted to pay their respects to the football-mad ­grand­father gathered in a socially distanced manner outside the old Arsenal ground at Highbury to wave off the procession.

Heartbreakingly, Monday will mark his 35th wedding anniversary, having brought up his children in Holloway and Camden Road.

His daughter said: “It was a really big thing for Mum that she couldn’t go and sit with him – she couldn’t spend his last days with him. And now all this has come out, and she asks, ‘Would it have been the end of the world if one family member had been allowed to sit there?’”

Describing the apparent double standards at Downing Street, she said: “It’s a disgrace what they’ve done. Where do we go from here? He’s got to stand down. It’s not like it was a little gathering – it was totally taking the pee.”

Mick Doherty, licensee at Islington Sports Bar and Grill in Holloway Road, who ran a crowdfunding drive to raise money for the man’s funeral, said: “The Prime Minister can’t dictate to the people that you can’t have a drink or sit with friends – and then throw a garden party for 100 people.”

Mr Johnson responded to calls to resign from opposition MPs by asking them to wait for the conclusions of an inquiry into alleged government events during lockdown.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock resigned in June after being found to have broken the rules during lockdown, while Mr Johnson’s communications chief, Allegra Stratton, departed in December after being caught on film joking about wine and cheese parties during a mock press conference.

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