Carrie Johnson regrets ‘lapse in judgement’ after photo shows her breaking Covid rules

Carrie Johnson reportedly broke Covid rules by embracing her friend at a social event when the two-metre social-distancing rule was in place. Credit: PA

The prime minister's wife, Carrie Johnson, has admitted to breaching social distancing guidelines, as Boris Johnson faces increasing pressure to get a grip on Covid-rule-breaking allegations within his party.

The Sunday Telegraph published a photograph seemingly showing Mrs Johnson embracing a friend at a social event in London's West End in September 2020.

At the time, government guidance called for people to “stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible”, or one metre if taking the extra precaution of meeting outdoors.

The rule of six was in place at the time the photograph was taken, which the paper said was September 17.

A spokesperson said: “Mrs Johnson was one of a group of six seated outside celebrating a friend’s engagement.

“Mrs Johnson regrets the momentary lapse in judgement in briefly hugging her friend for a photograph.”

Reports have previously suggested that Mrs Johnson, a former Tory adviser, was present at the May 20 2020 “bring your own booze” event, while a photograph published in The Guardian shows her sat with her husband and Mr Reynolds in the No 10 garden on May 15, five days earlier.

The prime minister is facing mounting pressure to get a grip on the drip feed of revelations about No 10 rule-breaking as he fights to stay in office.

The Telegraph's allegations come as a sixth Conservative MP on Saturday came forward to call for the prime minister to quit over the way he has handled the so-called partygate revelations.

Downing Street drew the ire of furious Tory MPs as allegations of wrongdoing continued to emerge last week.

Not only has the prime minister admitted to attending the bash in the garden of Number 10 at the height of the UK's first lockdown in May 2020, but Number 10 was forced to apologise to the Queen for partying the night before Prince Philip's socially distanced funeral.

However, as the country awaits the publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the long list of alleged lockdown-busting parties, The Sunday Times has reported that Boris Johnson is devising a policy announcement blitz and a cull of his top team as he looks to survive the partygate affair.

ITV News Political Correspondent David Wood said there is no sign of pressure on the prime minister easing as the drip, drip of allegations continue

Martin Reynolds, the prime minister’s principal private secretary who sent an email, leaked to ITV News, inviting staff to “bring your own booze” drinks in the No 10 garden during the first coronavirus lockdown, and his deputy Stuart Glassborow are likely to be forced out of Downing Street, according to the newspaper.

No 10 chief of staff Dan Rosenfield’s position could also be at risk but officials in Downing Street refused to be drawn on the reports of a staff shake-up when these were put to them.

The paper also reported that Boris Johnson could also put in place a “booze ban” in No 10 following the series of embarrassing claims of “wine time Friday” gatherings in Downing Street while coronavirus rules were in place.

The Mirror had previously reported that the long-standing tradition continued during the pandemic and claimed that during Covid restrictions, staff bought a £142 fridge to keep their bottles of alcohol chilled, and the prime minister was aware of the socialising.

Boris Johnson is facing mounting calls to resign over the partygate fiasco.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the PM it would be in the "national interest" for him to resign and urged Tories to get "rid of him" if he refuses.

Boosted by polling which put his party 10 points in front of the Tories, Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to voters that he would preside over a government with “integrity” and that could “restore trust” if he wins the next election.

A survey by Opinium put Labour on 41% of the vote share, with the Conservatives on 31%.

The polling company said Mr Johnson’s approval rating had plummeted to minus 42% – almost a 20 point fall in a week – and that almost two-thirds of people surveyed thought he should stand down.