Politics

Downing Street bans infamous Wine Time Fridays – and £142 booze fridge vanishes


After the Sue Gray report revealed wine on the walls, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said booze is only allowed for formal events in No10, and “I don’t think we have the fridge any more”

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Steve Barclay confronted over government cleaner who died from Covid

Downing Street’s infamous Wine Time Fridays have “in effect” been banned and the £142 booze fridge has vanished, it emerged today.

The Mirror revealed in January how the weekly after-work knees-ups – which began years ago – continued during the pandemic despite lockdown rules.

Sources said the PM encouraged aides to “let off steam” and they invested in a £142 fridge to keep bottles of white wine, Prosecco and beer cool.

After the Sue Gray report revealed red wine spilt on walls, vomiting, 4am finishes and staff being rude to security, No10 said Boris Johnson had agreed new boozing guidelines for the civil service.

The PM refused to ban alcohol altogether, telling MPs: “Had alcohol been banned in No10 in 1940, we may not have won the Second World War.”

But asked if Wine Time Fridays were now banned, the PM’s official spokesman said: “In effect yes, because alcohol consumption on No10 for staff is not permitted.

“The only distinction being with regards to formal events.”






A picture has emerged of the wine fridge being delivered to Downing Street





The fridge, pictured, had the capacity for 34 wine bottles

He added: “I don’t think we have the fridge anymore.”

The spokesman declined to publish new guidance on alcohol for civil servants, which was published after Sue Gray’s interim report earlier this year.

But he said it makes clear “excessive consumption” or “sufficient consumption to impair judgement” is not acceptable.

He added “occasional and limited consumption” may be acceptable in some circumstances.

Asked if staff will be breathalysed, he replied: “No, there will need to be an element of judgement here”.

“There are new rules with regard to alcohol consumption in No 10 and new guidance across Whitehall. Social events will continue but obviously within the new rules,” the spokesman said.






Some of the photos of Boris Johnson were taken near the WTF spot

“Alcohol consumption in No 10 for staff is not permitted. The only distinction being for formal events – visits from world leaders.”

Downing Street refused to say if anyone would be disciplined – either for their drunken behaviour, or for false denials to journalists that parties happened.

Earlier, the PM’s chief of staff said he “doesn’t know” if David Cameron and Theresa May would have had “Wine Time Fridays” while they were serving as prime minister.

Asked if Mr Cameron would have overseen such events – whose existence was confirmed in the Sue Gray report – Stephen Barclay told Sky News: “I don’t know, I was a backbench MP then.”

Asked if Mrs May would have while he was her Brexit secretary, he said: “Well again, you’re referring to the press office. I wasn’t working in the press office. I was working at No 9 Downing Street.”

Mr Barclay added he “doesn’t know” if Mrs May would have been happy with such events taking place, and reinforced that Boris Johnson was “shocked” by the findings of the report, in particular the treatment of staff in the building.

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