BORIS Johnson didn’t realise he was at a lockdown-breaking party when he raised a glass to a room full of people surrounded by bottles of alcohol, a Tory minister has claimed.

Newly published images show the Prime Minister leading a toast with colleagues during a boozy gathering in Downing Street on November 13, 2020.

Grant Shapps said he was “angry” to see the photographs but suggested the Tory leader may not have been fined over the event because he left the leaving do “pretty quick”.

The Transport Secretary argued that Johnson had “popped down” to toast departing communications chief Lee Cain and that he was "clearly not" partying. 

Downing Street has declined to defend the scenes ahead of the publication of Sue Gray’s inquiry, which a No 10 source expects to be published on Wednesday.

The leaving do took place just days after the Prime Minister had ordered England’s second national lockdown.

Johnson, who the Transport Secretary claimed was “mortified” by the latest revelations, was facing fresh allegations he lied to Parliament after ITV News published the images.

Scotland Yard was also facing calls to explain why Johnson was not fined over that event when photos showed him, drink in hand, by a table strewn with food and wine bottles.

There were at least eight other people in the room at a time when people were banned from social mixing, other than to meet one person outside, and at least one individual has received a fine over an event on that date.

Shapps pointed to Johnson’s red ministerial box being present in the images as he claimed to Sky News the Prime Minister was “clearly not” partying.

“It looks to me like he goes down on his way out of the office and thanks the staff and raises a glass, and doesn’t in his mind recognise it as a party,” he said.

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The Tory minister seemingly tried to excuse the PM's behaviour by saying he “lost his mum during the period”.

However, Charlotte Johnson died in September 2021, 10 months after the Downing Street bash. 

Conservative sources told the Mirror that Shapps was talking more generally about the Covid pandemic, and not trying to suggest Johnson was mourning his mother during the party itself.

The Transport Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “angry” to see the images, as he sought to explain why Johnson was not fined over that event.

“It looks to me he was asked to go and thank a member of staff who was leaving, raises a glass to them and I imagine comes in and out pretty quick, which is presumably why the police have not issued a fixed-penalty notice to the Prime Minister for that event,” he said.

But Shapps said the Met does not need to explain its rationale despite calls coming from those including London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“I don’t think the police should provide running commentaries, no,” the Cabinet minister added.

The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader, Kirsten Oswald, rubbished suggestions that Johnson could have been unaware that the gathering was a party.

“It couldn’t be clearer. We all know what a party looks like when it’s photographed,” she told BBC Good Morning Scotland. “There it was in front of us in all its glory – the empty glasses, the half-empty bottles and the people, and that includes the Prime Minister there raising his glass.

“It’s obvious what was going on.”

She added: “The Prime Minister has not been frank about this at all.

“He’s had all manner of different stories that he’s spun to us at various stages of this fiasco, from there being no parties at all, to if there had been any parties he would have been very angry, to there might have been a work event … I can't actually keep up with the number of tales that he’s spun.”