CONSERVATIVE MPs in Essex have denied being aware of a Downing Street party while England remained under lockdown restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday issued a “heartfelt apology” in the House of Commons after he admitted attending a gathering in the garden of Number 10 when they were banned.

He claimed he believed it was a work event - and therefore legitimate - and said he was there for 25 minutes to thank staff for their hard work.

But opposition politicians have questioned his reasoning with the Bring Your Own Booze instruction with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer Labour calling him a “pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road”.

When contacted by the Gazette, Colchester MP Will Quince said he did not receive the leaked email invitation and was not aware of any plans for a gathering at Number 10.

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Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin also stressed “I was not invited to any Downing Street event with booze during lockdown.”

He added: “I think we must await the outcome of the inquiry.”

Clacton MP Giles Watling did not respond to the Gazette question and nor did Braintree MP James Cleverly or Witham MP Priti Patel who, as Home Secretary, sat near Mr Johnson on the front bench yesterday.

At the time of the party, on May 20 2020, people were only allowed to meet one other person from outside their household as long as it was an outdoor public place and two metre social distancing was maintained.

Colchester’s Labour Group leader Adam Fox said: “Now it is clear while we all made huge sacrifices to follow the rules, Boris Johnson and his team were drinking and laughing away. It is absolutely sickening.”

Mr Johnson has now said it is a matter for Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who is investigating a series of reported parties in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall in the course of 2020, to determine what happened.