Downing Street Xmas parties: what we know so far as Boris Johnson is accused of breaking Covid rules

The Prime Minister has so far refused to deny Christmas parties took place in Downing Street last year despite strict Covid rules being in place

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Boris Johnson has refused to deny that Christmas parties which allegedly broke strict Covid rules took place in Downing Street last year.

The Prime Minister was questioned about the situation after an unnamed source revealed to the Mirror newspaper that parties had been held behind closed doors in 2020.

Johnson is accused of hosting the party despite London having been subject to strict tier three Covid restrictions at the time, which included no mixing with others outside a household or support bubble.

A Downing Street source told the newspaper that people enjoyed food, drinks and games which went on until after midnight.

The source said: “It was the only place you could get together and socialise. They happened most Fridays.”

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Boris Johnson has been accused of hosting Christmas parties in 2020 at Downing Street while London was put under tier three Covid-19 restrictions
  • One of the Christmas parties in question allegedly took place on 18 December, with tier three rules being imposed in London on 14 December which saw mixing of households banned for the festive period
  • Johnson has so far not denied that the parties took place
  • Downing Street has said “all guidance was followed” for all events in No.10, while not outright refusing the claims that Christmas parties took place
  • The matter was discussed at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), where Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Johnson of “taking the British public for fools”

What has Boris Johnson allegedly done?

An unnamed source revealed to the Mirror newspaper that Johnson had allegedly hosted Christmas parties behind closed doors in Downing Street while London was under strict Covid restrictions.

Those in London were not able to mix indoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble after restrictions were introduced on 14 December 2020.

The source alleges Johnson hosted parties at Downing Street during this time, claiming one event took place on 18 December.

Speaking to the BBC, they said the party in question saw “games” involved and food and drink was also served to guests.

The row over the allegedly “illegal” parties was discussed during PMQs.

What has been said about the parties?

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, accused Johnson of breaking the law by hosting parties when indoor mixing between household was illegal.

During PMQs, Blackford said: “The prime minister might be denying it but I’ve spoken to the Mirror newspaper this morning and they are confirming what happened, and they have legal advice on potential illegality.

"At a time when public health messaging is so vital, how are people possibly expected to trust a prime minister when he thinks it’s one rule for him and one rule for everybody else?”

The Prime Minister responded by saying that Blackford was “talking total nonsense”.

The questions continued for Johnson surrounding the issue, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer claiming that he was “taking the British public for fools”.

Despite Johnson claiming that all rules were followed during Downing Street events, Sir Keir said: “Nice try but that won’t work.

“The defence seems to be that no rules were broken. Well, I’ve got the rules that were in place at the time, Prime Minister, of this party, they’re very clear.

“You must not have a work Christmas lunch or party. Does the Prime Minister really expect the country to believe that while people were banned from seeing their loved ones at Christmas last year, it was fine for him and his friends to throw a boozy party in Downing Street?”

What did Boris Johnson about the alleged parties?

Johnson refused to deny that the parties had taken place, instead placing emphasis on the current situation with the Omicron variant and the push to get all eligible adults their booster vaccine.

In response to Sir Keir, he said: “I’ve said what I’ve said about Number 10 and the events of 12 months ago, but since he asks about what we’re asking the country to do this year which I think is, frankly, a more relevant consideration.

“The important thing to do is not only to follow the guidance which we have set out, but also when it comes to dealing with the Omicron variant to make sure that, as we have said, that you wear a mask on public transport and in shops, and that you self isolate if you come into contact with somebody who has Omicron, and, above all, what we’re doing is strengthening our measures at the borders, but particularly … get your booster.

“I’m not going to ask him since I’m forbidden to ask questions, but I hope very much that he’s had it.”

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