There was no Downing Street Christmas party and no Covid rules broken, says Boris Johnson

The UK Prime Minister apologised “unreservedly” for the offence caused by the footage of his then-spokeswoman Allegra Stratton at a mock press conference
There was no Downing Street Christmas party and no Covid rules broken, says Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament. Picture date: Wednesday December 8, 2021.

Boris Johnson has ordered an investigation into claims Downing Street staff broke lockdown rules by holding a Christmas party last year and told MPs he was “furious” about footage apparently showing aides joking about it.

The UK Prime Minister apologised “unreservedly” for the offence caused by the footage of his then-spokeswoman Allegra Stratton at a mock press conference.

But he insisted that he had been repeatedly assured that “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”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said: “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.”

The Prime Minister’s apology “raises more questions than answers” Keir Starmer told the Commons.

The Labour leader 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?” Boris Johnson replied: “I think he missed what I said. I apologise for the impression that has been given that staff in Downing Street take this less than seriously. I am sickened myself and furious.”

The Prime Minister insisted “disciplinary action” would be taken against staff for a Christmas party last year if needed, as he face accusations of being caught “red-handed”.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer said: “An internal investigation into what happened – the situation is as clear as day. I thought last week was bad enough.

“Surely the Prime Minister hasn’t now going to start pretending that the first he knew about this was last night? Surely we have all watched the video of the Prime Minister’s staff including his personal spokesperson.

“They knew there was a party, they knew it was against the rules, they knew they couldn’t admit it, and they thought it was funny.

“It is obvious was happened. Ant and Dec are ahead of the Prime Minister on this. The Prime Minister has been caught red-handed. Why doesn’t he end the investigation right now by just admitting it?” Boris Johnson said: “Because I have been repeatedly assured that no rules were broken. I understand public anxiety about this… but there is a risk of doing a grave injustice to people who have frankly obeyed the rules.

“That is why the Cabinet Secretary will be conducting an investigation, and that is why there will be requisite disciplinary action if necessary.”

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

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