Senior Tories are warning Boris Johnson in opposition to appointing an official on the coronary heart of the Partygate scandal to a prime diplomatic job after it emerged that the person was being lined as much as be Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Martin Reynolds stop as Johnson’s principal non-public secretary in February following outrage about Partygate. He left after an e-mail emerged through which he had invited tons of of Whitehall workers to a “bring your own booze” celebration within the Downing Street backyard in May 2020.
The report into lockdown events produced by Sue Gray final week revealed extra embarrassing emails from Reynolds, who was talked about 24 instances in her long-awaited inquiry. In essentially the most damning of those, he notes that they appear to have “got away with” drinks in No 10’s backyard, regardless of being warned that such an occasion was a “risk in the current environment”.
One official replied to his suggestion of a celebration with: “Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc.” At that press convention, tradition secretary Oliver Dowden advised the general public: “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart.”
The recruitment course of to seek out the brand new Saudi ambassador is beneath manner and no appointment has been made. However, Reynolds emerged because the favorite for the job, with a ultimate determination mendacity with Johnson. Before working straight for the prime minister, Reynolds had served as ambassador to Libya and had been anticipated to return to a diplomatic publish.
Some Conservatives consider that the appointment shouldn’t be allowed to undergo, given Reynolds’ obvious admission that he knew officers had been breaking Covid guidelines by having the backyard celebration.
“The ambassador represents the Queen,” mentioned one senior determine. “It is pretty extraordinary that someone who has deliberately and knowingly broken the law should be appointed to represent her. No 10 staff were ‘essential workers’ because the office is the UK’s strategic headquarters. It is extraordinary that the government risked the strategic HQ’s capability by risking a single [Covid] outbreak closing the building completely, leaving the UK unguided.”
If Reynolds is distributed to Riyadh, he’s unlikely to be arranging any booze-fuelled events: alcohol is illegitimate in Saudi Arabia, and it not too long ago dominated out any concept of lifting that ban as a manner of boosting its tourism business. The Foreign Office warns that the “penalties for the possession of, or trade in alcohol are severe” within the nation.
The authorities was approached for remark.