LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) – Britain’s Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, are changing the location of a planned wedding party, an ally of the prime minister said yesterday, denying allegations that he was staying on in a caretaker role because of it.
The Mirror newspaper reported on Thursday (July 7) that Johnson, who has said he will resign, wanted to stay on for a few months in part because he planned to throw a party at his official Chequers country residence later this month to celebrate his marriage.
An ally of the prime minister said on condition of anonymity that “it’s utterly ridiculous to suggest” the party plan was a reason for Johnson to stay on in a caretaker role.
The party would no longer take place at Chequers.
Asked about the report on Thursday, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has a strong sense of duty and will continue to serve his country until a new leader is in place, solely to continue his obligation to the public.”
In addition to their official 10 Downing Street residence in London, British prime ministers have traditionally used Chequers, a 16th century English country house north of the capital, as a personal country retreat, a place to host world leaders and occasionally, to throw parties.
Johnson, 58, married Carrie, 34, last year in a low-key, secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral in central London in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
The couple’s Chequers wedding party was planned for July 30.
Announcing his resignation on Thursday, Johnson said he would stay in office until a new Conservative leader is elected in the coming months, possibly until October.
But several British media reported that the timeline has more to do with his desire not to lose the perks of Chequers ahead of the bash, explaining that invitations had already gone out.
Critics said Johnson had the 16th-century country home on his mind in his resignation speech at 10 Downing Street, when at one point he misspoke in thanking “the wonderful staff here at Chequers”.
London mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC radio: “As much as we’d all like to have a lavish wedding at the taxpayer’s expense in Chequers, he won’t be able to do so because the British public will find it abhorrent.”
Chequers was already the subject of recent headlines over claims that the Johnsons wanted to build a treehouse there worth ?150,000 (S$252,000) for their two-year-old son Wilf. They denied that.