Prime Minister Boris Johnson under heavy fire as Downing Street Christmas party story dominates UK headlines
Despite announcing measures to tackle the Omicron Covid variant, the news agenda is still very much focused on Boris Johnson and the Downing Street Christmas party
Last night, in a move some have said was a diversionary tactic, the Prime Minister announced tougher Covid restrictions to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.
But despite the PM’s possible hopes that the new agenda would move on, the Christmas bash has continued to dominate the national headlines this morning (9 December).
So what are the UK’s major media outlets saying about the saga?
Boris Johnson’s leadership questioned
Titles that are usually supportive of the Conservative Party, like the Daily Mail and The Sun, have heavily criticised the Prime Minister.
In its editorial, the Mail said Boris Johnson had handed a “gaping open goal” to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer because the Government “not only stands accused of dishonesty, but — worse — of taking the public for fools”.
The newspaper questioned the plausibility of Boris Johnson saying he knew nothing about a Christmas party in Downing Street, and said he must “get a grip” on the situation as “the public is entitled to ask if his team is up to the job”.
Meanwhile, The Sun has an image of the PM dressed up as the Grinch on its front page in reference to the new Christmas restrictions he has announced.
It proclaims that it’s “’one rule for them [and] one for us”.
The paper said the Downing Street party saga “amounts to a failure of leadership by the PM that cannot and must not continue”.
It added that questions over whether new Omicron rules were a distraction tactic were cynical but served as a mark of how “low the nation’s trust has sunk”.
The Sun also revealed that the PM has cancelled a Conservative Christmas do at Christie’s auction house in central London in light of the Christmas party row.
Sky’s Beth Rigby writes “more heads could roll” as the PM seeks to steady his ship.
She also reports the potential rebellion within the Tory ranks is building.
“The mood is febrile and MPs - their inboxes perhaps filling up with angry emails - are now beginning to, openly and unapologetically, defy their leader and their whips,” she writes.
Commuter title Metro pointed to polling from Savanta Comres which showed 54% of the public believe Boris Johnson should resign and 76% believe he should apologise over the row.
More 2020 Christmas parties revealed
Further damning allegations have emerged about other Christmas parties that took place at a similar time to the Downing Street event at the centre of the story.
The Times revealed London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey held a “raucous” party at Conservative Party HQ in Whitehall on 14 December 2020 when London was under tier two restrictions that prevented indoor mixing between households.
The political party has since apologised and said it would discipline those involved.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror - which broke the original Downing Street party story - has alleged there was another party during last year’s November ‘firebreak lockdown’.
It came after former advisor Dominic Cummings tweeted that an additional party had taken place earlier in November, bringing the number of alleged Downing Street parties to three.
As well as getting the scoop on the 18 December Downing Street event, the Mirror also forced an apology from the Department for Education this week for an illicit event it held last December.
It reports that Buckingham Palace staff reacted with “utter dismay” at the Christmas party scandal and also reveals campaigners have called on Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone to investigate the PM, accusing him of "repeatedly" breaking the Commons Code of Conduct with his behaviour.
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