'One rule for them': Backlash grows as Boris Johnson accused of hypocrisy over mass BBQ at G7 summit

·3-min read
The pictures have drawn a backlash from some quarters. (Reuters)
The pictures have drawn a backlash from some quarters. (Reuters)

Boris Johnson is facing a growing backlash after a crowded barbecue at the G7 summit in Cornwall appeared to breach England's social distancing rules. 

Photos emerged on Sunday showing more than 30 guests at the event in Carbis Bay, with only the staff wearing face masks. 

Downing Street insisted that there were fewer than 30 guests while foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the government had “gone well above and beyond” to make sure the event was COVID-secure. 

But more than 30 people can be counted in media footage of the event, including wait staff and security staff. 

Read: Dominic Raab defends G7 barbecue after photos show world leaders not social distancing

It comes as the government prepared to announce a delay in the planned lifting of remaining lockdown restrictions in England on Monday. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer criticised the government over the barbecue, saying that the optics “really didn’t look good”. 

Boris Johnson during the barbecue in Cornwall. (Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street)
Boris Johnson during the barbecue in Cornwall. (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street)

He told LBC Radio on Monday: “Tonight we’re going to hear from the prime minister probably saying 'alas' – that word which always means he’s about to tell us that his plan didn’t work and that we are probably in for another four weeks of restrictions."

He added: “I think the optics of [the barbeque] just a few days before were not good," and said: "A lot of people will be pretty frustrated I think, having seen that and then hearing what we’re going to hear tonight.”

The Labour leader said people will weddings planned in the next few weeks would be nervously watching the Downing Street press conference on Monday to find out if the event can go ahead as planned.

Watch: Trevor Phillips questions Dominic Raab about the G7 barbecue

“In the heart of those people, they would have looked at that and thought 'that’s one rule for them and another for me' and that’s just not on,” Starmer said. 

Johnson is expected to use the press conference on Monday to delay his plan to scrap the six-person limit on indoor gatherings.

Weddings can currently go ahead with a limit of 30 people – and it's thought that cap might still be lifted from 21 June, one of the few changes to still go ahead as planned.

Asked about the barbecue, Boris Johnson's spokesman said: "The event last night was done in an entirely COVID-secure way within the existing rules.

"This was an informal gathering of the G7 leaders and rightly it is held in private ... but you can see it was a relaxed atmosphere and gave the leaders a chance to discuss outside of a formal setting."

Those attending the summit had a daily testing regime and the event was held outside.

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On Sunday, Sky News’ Trevor Phillips told Dominic Raab: “People will be reasonably saying that you’re not allowing me to gather with my friends and family at a wedding and a funeral but look at what you guys are doing.” 

But Raab replied: “In fairness, there have always been different principles for social entertainment or weddings than for government business.

“Those rules have been the same all along."

Yahoo News UK has contacted Downing Street for comment. 

Watch: G7 pandemic pledges not nearly enough: global health leaders

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