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Boris Johnson holding farewell party at grace and favour country estate Chequers this weekend

The prime minister is not attending an emergency COBRA meeting on the heatwave national emergency as he prepares for his farewell do at Chequers, the country estate which has an indoor swimming pool and hundreds of acres of grounds.

Boris Johnson is holding his farewell party at the prime minister’s country estate this weekend, a source has told Sky News.

Formal invites went out earlier this week to the event being held at Chequers, the official country residence of prime ministers, which is based in Buckinghamshire.

A Tory source told Sky News: “The invitation comes from Mr and Mrs Johnson.

“It is their farewell bash at Chequers this weekend. Partners and children are all invited.”

The event is happening on Sunday, Sky News understands.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner accused Mr Johnson of going “missing in action again” as he “prepares to party while Britain boils”.

Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson will not be attending this afternoon’s emergency COBRA meeting on the response to the current heatwave, which has been declared a national emergency.

Kit Malthouse, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will chair the meeting and while Mr Johnson is a caretaker PM, it will be on a “case-by-case basis” whether he chairs COBRA meetings or not.

Ms Rayner said: “Boris Johnson has gone missing in action again. He’s back to his old tricks of skipping important COBRA meetings.

“Where’s the plan for the delivery of essential services and how people will be kept safe at work, on transport, in schools, hospitals and care homes?

“The public will have no confidence in this zombie Conservative government responding swiftly and decisively to this national emergency as this disgraced prime minister prepares to party while Britain boils.

“If he still can’t take the responsibility of the job, he should leave right now.”

‘Not relevant’

On Mr Johnson’s leaving do, a Number 10 spokesman said: “As this is not relevant to government business there is nothing to add.”

The event is understood to be private and no taxpayer money is being used to fund it at the grace and favour estate.

Chequers has been the official country residence of British prime ministers since 1921 after the estate was given to the nation by Sir Arthur Lee.

The Grade I 16th Century mansion is owned by the Chequers Trust and boasts an indoor swimming pool and hundreds of acres of gardens.

It is where Mr Johnson and his wife, Carrie, were planning on holding their delayed wedding reception after getting married while COVID restrictions were in place.

They were reportedly due to hold a party to celebrate their wedding this month but following his resignation, the plans to host the event at Chequers came under heavy criticism.

Ms Rayner had suggested Mr Johnson was only staying on after resigning because he wants “a party at Chequers for his wedding”.

Last week, No 10 denied this and said they had now changed the location of their wedding celebration venue.

Mr Johnson’s farewell party is taking place as the Conservative leadership race continues, with five MPs still in the running.

They will be whittled down to two contestants by the end of next week and will then take part in hustings over the summer before Conservative Party members vote on who will replace Mr Johnson by 5 September.

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