TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Saturday, Feb 04, 2023

Gray report criticises No 10’s ‘excessive’ alcohol culture, but this is the drug all UK is addicted too

Gray report criticises No 10’s ‘excessive’ alcohol culture, but this is the drug all UK is addicted too

The ‘wine fridge’ installed in an office suggests governing the country is thirsty work for Boris Johnson’s team

There is a common element in the myriad reports of alleged parties inside Downing Street: alcohol. From the photo of Boris Johnson sitting by a wine bottle in his garden to the claims of a suitcase of booze being wheeled into No 10, governing the country is clearly thirsty work.

Some of the most shocking claims centred around an apparent culture of alcohol use within No 10, not least the “wine fridge” installed in an office, and the evocative image of an official being dispatched to the local Co-op to fill a suitcase with wine during a boozy leaving party.

Sue Gray’s report was quietly damning on this: “The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time. Steps must be taken to ensure that every government department has a clear and robust policy in place covering the consumption of alcohol in the workplace.”

There have been some tentative steps by Johnson supporters to address the issue, but they have sought to present it as a wider issue that goes beyond the Johnson team.

“The task now is for us to address the underlying culture in Downing Street,” Oliver Dowden, the Conservative chair, said in a pointed remark earlier this month.

This is heavily disputed by the former staff of previous PMs. “This culture didn’t exist when Oliver worked in No 10 for David Cameron. It didn’t exist when I worked there for Theresa May,” remarked Gavin Barwell, both a former Tory MP and May’s ex-chief of staff. “So I guess what Oliver is saying is the prime minister needs to change the culture he has presided over.”

The truth would seem to fall somewhere between these two poles. It is hardly a secret that No 10 staff, particularly the predominantly young, very dedicated political appointees, who are paid well but face minimal job security, enjoy both a drink and a gossip – much like the journalists who cultivate them as sources.

This is not unique to the current No 10. In pre-Johnson times, the pubs around Westminster, not least the Red Lion, a short trot from both parliament and Downing Street, were hardly lacking in custom.


There are, however, two elements perhaps distinctive to the events uncovered in Gray’s report.

One is that elements of Johnson’s Downing Street, including some of those associated with Vote Leave and Boris Johnson, brought with them a work culture of punishing hours and little time for socialising with non-colleagues.

Drink inevitably played a role in this. Before the pandemic, a decidedly drunk-looking Cummings, clasping a glass of red wine, was once seen wandering along parliament’s press corridor asking directions to a particular newspaper office.

There have also been repeated reports about a social culture centred around Carrie Johnson, albeit a less boozy one, involving friends of the PM’s wife of around her age who work in government.

Perhaps more significant was an outside event: lockdown. With pubs closed but No 10 staff still in the office, alcohol became their outlet for socialising too. After all, they might have thought, they were together anyway and were working hard. As Gray notes, this is true: but so were many other people who did not break any rules.

Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
Close
0:00
0:00
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
If a country is denied the right to independence by another, it is not in a union. It is in a dictatorship.
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'
×