Boris Johnson says stop focusing on ‘Xmas party’ scandal

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·Freelance Writer
·4 min read
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  • Boris Johnson
    Boris Johnson
    Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2019
  • Keir Starmer
    Keir Starmer
    British politician
Boris Johnson has apologised for a video showing Downing Street staff laughing about a lockdown-busting Christmas party. (PA)
Boris Johnson has apologised for a video showing Downing Street staff laughing about a lockdown-busting Christmas party. (PA)

Boris Johnson has apologised for the "offence caused" by the alleged Christmas party at Number 10 – but said people should stop focusing on the scandal.

Damning leaked footage emerged on Tuesday which showed the PM's former press secretary Allegra Stratton laughing as she answered mock questions from a colleague about the lockdown-busting Christmas party.

The video, dated 22 December last year, refers to a party on 18 December.

Last week, the Daily Mirror first reported there was a staff party on this date, where games were played, food and drinks were served, and revelries went on past midnight.

The prime minister said he was "furious" about the video, and had ordered an investigation into whether his staff broke lockdown rules.

He then told MPs: "We are taking the steps necessary to protect the public by rolling out the vaccination programme rather than focusing on the events a year ago."

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the prime minister’s apology 'raises more questions than answers'.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the prime minister’s apology 'raises more questions than answers'. (PA)

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Johnson told the House of Commons: “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.”

Watch: Anger after video emerges of aides joking about Xmas party

The party is understood to have taken place while London was under Tier 3 restrictions, banning any indoor socialising with other households.

The Times reported that around 30 people attended the party, adding that it was held in the main press office within Downing Street.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the prime minister’s apology “raises more questions than answers”.

Boris Johnson told people to stop focusing on the Christmas party at Downing Street.
Boris Johnson told people to stop focusing on the Christmas party at Downing Street. (PA)
Sir Keir Starmer said the Boris Johnson has damaged his credibility in enforcing Covid rules.
Sir Keir Starmer said the Boris Johnson has damaged his credibility in enforcing COVID-19 rules. (PA)

He said: “The prime minister, the government, spent the week telling the British public there was no party. All guidance was followed completely.

“Millions of people now think the prime minister was taking them for fools, that they were lied to. They are right aren’t they?”

No 10 initially did not say the reports were inaccurate but said all rules had been followed, before later denying any party had taken place at all.

The government refused to send a minister to defend its position on television this morning, with health secretary Sajid Javid failing to show for a series of planned media appearances.

Watch: Newsreader tears into video of Downing Street staff joking about Xmas party

Johnson has faced widespread criticism over the handling of the allegations, including from within his own party.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said that the prime minister should not continue in his post if it emerges that he knew about the party, and misled parliament.

Ross told STV News: “There was a party of sorts, I don’t think we can get away from that, and therefore questions have to be answered why that was allowed as it was absolutely against the guidance this time last year.”

He added there were “serious questions to be answered around what happened this time last year”.

Former minister Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, demanded an apology, Kent Online reported, while fellow Tory Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said the leaked footage looks “very bad” and casts “the situation in a different light”.

Boris Johnson has come under pressure over the alleged Christmas party at Number 10 last Christmas. (Getty)
Boris Johnson has come under pressure over the alleged Christmas party at Number 10 last Christmas. (Getty)

Tory peer and former Conservative Party chairwoman Sayeeda Warsi said all those present at any party should quit.

Sir Charles Walker, a former vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said the government is likely to now find it “almost impossible” to introduce “very proscriptive” COVID restrictions due to the saga.

It comes amid suggestions ministers are considering moving to Plan B measures in England, such as calling for people to work from home and implementing vaccine passports.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed officers are reviewing the leaked video in relation to “alleged breaches” of coronavirus regulations.

Watch: Tearful response of bereaved woman who lost mum to COVID over Christmas party video

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