A GP has spoken of her ‘absolute sense of rage’ at the reports of a Downing Street garden party which took place days after she buried her father following his death from Covid.
Dr Louise Irvine said she and other mourners had to read emails from loved ones not allowed to attend around his grave as they stuck to government restrictions at the funeral.
She said her final farewell to her dad, John Irvine, in hospital on April 20, 2020, before joining eight other mourners at the send-off, held outdoors at a cemetery in Edinburgh.
Dr Irvine, 64, told Metro.co.uk that Boris Johnson should ‘do the right thing and resign’ after a leaked email showed 100 invites were sent out to a ‘socially distanced’ garden party at Number 10, inviting people to ‘bring your own booze’.
The Prime Minister and his wife, Carrie Johnson, were among 40 people thought to have attended in the end, at a time when restrictions kept public gatherings to a bare minimum, including at funerals and weddings.
Dr Irvine said: ‘We were only allowed nine people around my father’s grave, let alone 100.
‘It was outdoors and spaced out and we read out emails from his friends and family around his graveside because they couldn’t be there due to the restrictions.
‘The thought that, just a few days later, there were all those people gathering at Downing Street, probably with less distancing than we had, is terrible. It fills me with an absolute sense of rage.
‘It’s unbelievable that people with any kind of conscience could have even envisaged a bring your own booze party in light of what they were asking others around the country to do.
‘To blatantly disregard that for their own pleasure shows we can’t trust them, and it shows in the mishandling of the whole pandemic right from the beginning. They don’t care if people die, if people are in hospital, if people are in ICU and if NHS staff are working 12-hour shifts in hospital in full PPE.
‘The attitude of one rule for us and another for everyone else is destroying and undermining people’s confidence in the government.’
Dr Irvine wore full PPE to say a final goodbye to her dad, a former English teacher and lecturer who worked in Aberdeen, on the day he died aged 89. Her 96-year-old mother, Alix, was also hospitalised with Covid at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at the time but is now in good health.
‘I’m not just angry on behalf of my dad, who didn’t get the send-off he would have wanted, but for everyone else who lost loved ones,’ Dr Irvine said. ‘At least I got to see my dad one last time, many people didn’t even have that opportunity because of the restrictions.
‘I am angry and upset, not just for me, but for all the bereaved people and the NHS staff who trusted their leaders, only to be let down.’
Dr Irvine, from Lewisham, south-east London, is also on the executive committee for the Keep Our NHS Public campaign.
A GP for 30 years, she has worked through the successive Covid waves and says many other colleagues also feel hurt and betrayed by the reports of Downing Street parties.
‘An apology from Boris Johnson would be hollow and empty now,’ she said.
‘There’s been scandal after scandal and I feel he should resign and we should have a General Election.
‘If my father had seen any of this he would have been appalled.
‘Like my mother, he came from a generation that believed in people being honourable, trustful and responsible. The government has failed us and Boris Johnson should do the honourable thing and go.’
Mr Johnson attracted a barrage of criticism today as the affair spilled over into the House of Commons and led thousands who have lost loved ones to voice their anger.
Dr Tony O’Sullivan, of Keep Our NHS Public, said: ‘It is disgusting that Johnson’s team allegedly held a party for his “hardworking” Downing Street staff on a day when over 300 people died of Covid in hospitals, the same hospitals where NHS staff were working harder than anyone; there was no respite for them.
‘To hear this is heart-rending for bereaved children and families unable to visit their dying parents and grandparents.
‘This alleged rule-breaking is an insult to all those who sacrificed so much.’
Mr Johnson was defended by Paymaster General Michael Ellis as he answered questions on behalf of the Prime Minister in the Commons this afternoon. Answering a question from deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner, he said: ‘She asks if I have confidence in the Prime Minister’s integrity and honour, and I do.’
Ellis later insisted that Johnson ‘fully recognises’ that ‘we are all in this together’, adding: ‘He’s on the side of the people of this country.’
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