The Prime Minister said he was “furious” and has apologised over footage of Downing Street officials joking about a Christmas party that is alleged to have taken place during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown.
Leaked video footage obtained by ITV News shows Boris Johnson’s then-spokeswoman Allegra Stratton joking with other Number 10 aides at a mock press conference.
Mr Johnson said during Prime Minister’s Questions that he has ordered an investigation into claims that staff broke lockdown rules by holding a party.
When pressed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister also agreed to provide the Metropolitan Police with any information the Government has about Downing Street parties.
At a glance: 5 key points
- Despite saying the he was “furious” over the video, Mr Johnson insisted he had been repeatedly assured “there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”.
- Mr Johnson said he had asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case “to establish all the facts and to report back as soon as possible – and it goes without saying that if those rules were broken then there will be disciplinary action for all those involved”.
- Sir Keir responded to the Prime Minister’s apology by saying that it “raises more questions than answers”.
- The Labour leader then questioned whether Mr Johnson had the “moral authority” to lead and ask people to abide by any further restrictions.
- He told the Commons: “Her Majesty the Queen sat alone when she marked the passing of the man she’d been married to for 73 years. Leadership, sacrifice – that’s what gives leaders the moral authority to lead. “Does the Prime Minister think he has the moral authority to lead and to ask the British people to stick to the rules?”
What the Prime Minister said in his apology
Mr Johnson told MPs: “I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures, and I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules because I was also furious to see that clip.
“I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression that it gives.
“But I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, and that is what I have been repeatedly assured.”
What did the Downing Street video show?
Leaked footage from No 10’s £2.6 million press briefing room emerged on Tuesday night which showed former press secretary Ms Stratton laughing as she appeared to rehearse answers to questions over a lockdown-busting Christmas party.
The video, which is reported to be from December 22 last year, refers to a party on “Friday” – which would have been December 18, the same day The Daily Mirror reported there was a staff party where games were played, food and drinks were served, and revelries went on past midnight.
The emergence of the footage – in which Ms Stratton and aides joked about how to respond to questions on the party – fuelled anger on the Tory benches about Mr Johnson’s Number 10 operation.
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