Boris Johnson is under fire for encouraging the public to follow the example of a seven-year-old who stayed at home on her birthday during the first lockdown â€“ and later allegedly had his own rule-breaking bash when he turned 56.
On Monday, the prime minister was fighting off allegations from ITV News that a gathering to wish him a happy birthday was held at Downing Street on June 19 2020, when indoor social mixing was banned.
In the aftermath of the revelation, many pointed to a tweet from March 2020 when the PM replied to a letter from Josephine Booth, 7, who had cancelled her own birthday party.
Josephine Booth wrote to the prime minister: â€œI am staying at home because you asked us to.â€
She added: â€œI donâ€™t mind, because I want everybody to be OK.â€
Her letter went viral after it was posted on Twitter by the cricket club of which her father, Andrew, is the captain.
The prime minister responded by sharing the tweet and writing: â€œJosephine sets a great example to us all by postponing her birthday party until we have sent coronavirus packing.
â€œTogether we can beat this. In the meantime letâ€™s all wish her happy birthday (twice) whilst washing our hands. #BeLikeJosephine #StayHomeSaveLivesâ€.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign said: â€œJosephine protected the nation and cancelled her 7th birthday party because she wanted â€˜everybody to be okâ€™. The prime minister did not. He had cake whilst dozens sang happy birthday to him at a party for his 56th birthday.â€
The SNPâ€™s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said: â€œIt is a pity Boris Johnson did not postpone his own birthday party. Prime Minister you have lost the right to govern. Show some dignity and respect by doing the right thing. Resign.â€
Broadcaster Adil Ray said: â€œCan Josephine now lead the country?â€
Dan Ashley tweeted: â€œWe had a party in our house in 2020 for my daughter with about 30 teddies because the rules said no actual parties. It was a long afternoon #BeLikeJosephine #BorisJohnson #CarrieAntoinette #partygate.â€
On the day of his birthday, Johnson visited Bovingdon Primary School in Bovingdon, Hemel Hempstead, where he joined a socially distanced lesson and could be seen talking to pupils from the front of the classroom.
He wrote on Facebook: â€œThanks to the children and staff at Bovingdon Academy for the birthday wishes and cake!â€
The latest â€œpartygateâ€ allegations prompted many on social media to share their own birthday experiences when ordered not to socialise.
Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, tweeted two pictures of his â€œlockdown birthdayâ€ in 2020.
One picture shows a card which read â€œApril 2020 â€“ Definitely the most shit birthday you have ever hadâ€.
â€œFor my lockdown birthday in 2020 I had a wonderful day with my lovely boyfriend at home,â€ he tweeted.
â€œNo parties. No rules broken. If I could do it, why couldnâ€™t the Prime Minister?â€
Downing Street said staff â€œgathered brieflyâ€ in the Cabinet Room after a meeting, in response to the report, which suggested up to 30 people attended what it described as a birthday party.
But the broadcaster suggested the prime ministerâ€™s wife, Carrie Johnson, had organised the surprise get-together complete with a chorus of â€œhappy birthdayâ€ on the afternoon.
ITV news also reported later that evening family friends were hosted upstairs to further celebrate the Prime Ministerâ€™s 56th birthday in his official residence, claim Downing Street said was â€œtotally untrueâ€.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said the latest revelations were â€œyet more evidence that we have got a prime minister who believes that the rules that he made donâ€™t apply to himâ€.
It came as senior civil servant Sue Gray was working on her inquiry into a series of claims of rule-breaking parties in No 10 as Johnson faces calls to resign as prime minister, including from some of his own Conservative MPs.