Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie are no longer planning to host a wedding party at his government mansion, Downing Street sources said Friday after a storm of criticism over the plan.
Johnson announced his resignation as Conservative leader on Thursday. But it will only take effect when the party elects a successor in the coming months.
He was accused of prolonging his tenure in part because he and Carrie have already sent out invitations for their delayed wedding reception on July 30 at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat.
“Clinging on for one last party,” blared the leftwing tabloid Daily Mirror on Friday, a reference also to the scandal over lockdown-breaking parties that helped bring Johnson down.
But the Downing Street sources said reports to that effect were incorrect, and a different venue was being sought.
In any case, private expenses accrued by the Johnsons at Chequers would not be billed to the taxpayer, they said.
The couple married in a private ceremony in London in May 2021. They were limited to having 30 guests to a garden party in Downing Street afterwards, because of Covid restrictions.
Critics said Johnson had the 16th century country home on his mind in his resignation speech outside 10 Downing Street, when at one point he misspoke in thanking “the wonderful staff here at Chequers”.
Carrie, carrying their baby daughter Romy, stood nearby with staff and Johnson’s remaining cabinet supporters as he gave the six-minute speech.
James Cleverly, Johnson’s third education minister in a week after a cabinet revolt, said a new premier should grant him use of Chequers if he is pushed out before the wedding celebration.
“I think that if that is done by that point in time, I suspect that it would be a rather generous action of the new prime minister to allow that to go ahead,” Cleverly told BBC radio.
“I think it’s churlish to be negative about two people who want to celebrate their marriage and their love for each other,” he said.