Manchester United and England footballing great Gary Neville, now a prominent pundit working for Sky Sports, has spoken out about the UK Government over the lockdown parties scandal that has engulfed the Conservative Party in the past month.
Allegations have emerged relating to a string of events — some attended by as many as 100 people, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson — held at Number 10 Downing Street, official residency of the British leadership, during months when the UK was in varying degrees of Covid-19 lockdown.
This meant household mixing was banned by law, with businesses such as nightclubs, bars, concert halls, and restaurants closed. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, an estimated 660,000 jobs were lost from the hospitality sector alone, with 86,000 redundancies in nightlife specifically by last October.
According to reports, events included a wine and pizza garden party and separate bring-your-own-booze gathering (both May 2020), a Downing Street Flat Party and leaving event for senior aide Cleo Watson (both November 2020), a Christmas quiz and party (both December 2020), and an additional leaving party (April 2021).
"Number Ten Downing Street should be renamed 'Haçienda'," Neville declared on Twitter, likening the official residence of the British Prime Minister to the legendary Manchester nightclub of the 1980s and 90s, which, among other things, helped foster the region's then-nascent acid house scene.
No 10 Downing St should be renamed “Hacienda”
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) January 14, 2022
At the time of writing, the statement has illicited well over 3,600 retweets and more than 38,000 likes. Direct responses ranged from quips like "24-Hour Work Event People" — referencing the Happy Mondays song and movie '24-Hour Party People', which tells the story of Haçienda and Factory Records founder Tony Wilson — to "Privilege would be more appropriate I think", a nod to one of Ibiza's most popular clubs and the perception that the political class believe they are exempt from following the same rules as the general public. When news of the parties first began to emerge more than 1.2million people signed up for a "Christmas rave at 10 Downing Street" on Facebook.