Boris Johnson under fire after video shows staff joking about Christmas party amid COVID-19 restrictions

A newly uncovered video shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former press secretary joking with No. 10 Downing St. staff about a controversial Christmas party that was held amid COVID-19 restrictions in London last December.

In a video obtained by ITV, then-press secretary Allegra Stratton is seen rehearsing for a news conference in December last year. In the video, she says, "This fictional party was a business meeting, and it was not socially distanced," the BBC reported.

The rehearsal news conference took place four days after the Christmas party, on Dec. 22, the report noted. Johnson's office continues to insist that no party took place.

In the video, Ed Oldfield, an adviser to the prime minister, is seen asking Stratton about the party.

"I've just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night. Do you recognize those reports?" he asks while pretending to be a journalist.

"I went home," she says while laughing. After a long pause, Oldfield follows up and asks, "Would the prime minister condone having a Christmas party?"

Stratton at this point asks her team, "What's the answer?"

When her staff jokes about it being a wine and cheese party, she adds, "This is recorded. ... This fictional party was a business meeting, and it was not socially distanced."

Johnson and his aides have repeatedly denied that a party took place.

Downing Street told the The Guardian, "There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times."

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Johnson had to come clean.

"To lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful. The prime minister now needs to come clean and apologize," he said in a statement.

Johnson has faced increasing criticism from the British public after reports emerged that witnesses detailed midnight party games and festivities at No. 10 Downing St. during the winter 2020 lockdown.