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Boris Johnson involved in the Hankygate scandal with Five Rivers Morris
Boris Johnson, allegedly involved in the Hankygate scandal. Picture credit: Jon Nice

Sheffield folk dancers embroiled in ‘Boris the Morris dancer’ Hankygate scandal

A Sheffield folk dance group have found themselves at the centre of the latest alleged 10 Downing Street Covid-19 lockdown contraventions, this time relating to an illegal Morris dance or ‘team building work event’.

According to a source close to Downing Street, the so-called ‘Hankygate’ scandal revolves around several dance sessions that allegedly took place during the first lockdown in May 2020. Five Rivers Morris, from Sheffield, were invited to run the practices for “up to 10 people”, which were accommodated by “moving the big table” in the Cabinet Room.

At the time of the alleged practices, Morris sides up and down the country were unable to meet to perform in public or practice due to the Covid-19 lockdown measures then in place. Indeed, many sides are only just beginning to perform again after over two years of enforced inactivity.

It is alleged that Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself, along with several of his closest aides and “at least one other cabinet member”, took part in the Morris practices, which were badged a “work meeting” to circumvent restrictions. Five Rivers Morris are reported to have provided a musician, bells and hankies. It is said sticks were not allowed as they did not feel the participants could be trusted with them. No drinks were served.

An anonymous Downing Street source said: ““The events described were work team building events. The dance session was extremely well received and all participants were very eager to learn, although there was far more enthusiasm on show than the grace and beauty you would expect from a typical Morris dance.

“To think of the things and people the Cabinet Room has witnessed; Walpole, Pitt the Younger, Churchill – and now we can add the Prime Minister capering around to ‘Speed the Plough’ to its illustrious history.”

An opposition spokesperson was quoted as saying: “I wish I was surprised by this. It’s like some kind of Black Joak”.

A spokesperson for Five Rivers Morris added: “These allegations are quite clearly absurd. There is no way we would have considered travelling to London at a time of such national emergency, let alone provide dance instruction to a bunch of rank amateurs – who also don’t know how to Morris dance. 

“We all know that morris dancing is a fundamental part of the social fabric of the country, something we all take part in for fun and relaxation; not something that can be passed off as a ‘work event’. We have had an extremely successful recruitment year and can’t wait to be back out performing, so we really don’t need to become embroiled in yet another government controversy. And actually, there was plenty of beer to go round.”