Boris Johnson’s aides joked about Christmas party in Downing Street while London was in lockdown


The get together is alleged to have occurred on December 18, when London was below “Tier 3” lockdown restrictions that means individuals weren’t allowed to combine indoors with anybody outdoors their family or assist bubble.

The recording is of a mock press briefing on December 22, 2020, 4 days after the occasion is alleged to have taken place, in response to CNN affiliate ITV.

It reveals the PM’s then-press secretary, Allegra Stratton, joking when requested by a fellow No. 10 official about experiences of a Christmas get together. She laughs, says she “went residence” then says “this fictional get together was a enterprise assembly and it was not socially distanced.”

Stratton, who was serving because the Prime Minister’s COP26 spokeswoman, mentioned her feedback have change into a “distraction” within the combat in opposition to coronavirus, and provided her resignation on Wednesday afternoon. “I perceive the anger and frustration that individuals really feel,” she mentioned in an announcement on digicam.

“To all who misplaced family members, endured insupportable loneliness and struggled along with your companies — I’m sorry and this afternoon I provided my resignation to the Prime Minister.”

Allegra Stratton, Boris Johnson's former press secretary

Johnson mentioned Wednesday he apologizes unreservedly for the offense the leaked video has prompted.

He informed Prime Minister’s Questions in parliament: “I perceive and share the anger up and down the nation at seeing Quantity 10 employees seeming to make mild of lockdown measures.

“I can perceive how infuriating it should be to suppose that the individuals who have been setting the principles haven’t been following the principles, Mr. Speaker, as a result of I used to be additionally livid to see that clip. I apologize unreservedly for the offense that it has prompted up and down the nation and I apologize for the impression that it offers.”

Johnson mentioned he has been repeatedly assured since experiences of a Downing Road Christmas get together final yr emerged that there was no get together and that no Covid guidelines have been damaged.

“I’ve requested the Cupboard Secretary to ascertain info and report again as quickly as potential. And Mr. Speaker, it goes with out saying that if these guidelines have been damaged, then there will probably be disciplinary motion for all these concerned.”

Because the emergence of the video, Downing Road has reiterated “there was no Christmas get together and coronavirus guidelines had been adopted always.”

CNN approached quite a few authorities officers for remark however had no reply.

Responding to the video, UK opposition Labour chief Keir Starmer informed parliament Johnson “has been caught crimson handed.”

“Why does not he finish the investigation proper now by simply admitting it?” Starmer mentioned.

“Nobody was dreaming of a Zoom Christmas, turkey dinners for one, items exchanged at service stations. However the virus was uncontrolled…. So the British individuals put the well being of others above themselves and adopted the principles. Is not the Prime Minister ashamed that his Downing Road could not do the identical?” Starmer mentioned.

On December 18, 2020, the day of the alleged Downing Road get together, the UK reported 514 Covid deaths, in response to the federal government’s dashboard.

The Scottish Nationwide Occasion’s Westminster chief Ian Blackford known as for Johnson’s resignation.

“It’s time for members on this home to behave if he does not reign, that he should be eliminated,” he mentioned.

Labour get together lawmaker David Lammy tweeted: “Whereas individuals misplaced their lives, No10 partied. Whereas individuals caught to the principles, No10 broke them. Whereas the nation suffered, they joked. That is completely sickening. They’re laughing at us all. It is one rule for them and one other for the remainder of us.”

A lawmaker from Boris Johnson’s Conservative get together, Tobias Ellwood, informed the BBC Wednesday the federal government wants to indicate “it takes it [the criticism] critically” and get forward of the story.

One other Conservative MP, Charles Walker, informed Occasions Radio on Wednesday: “I feel now that, going ahead, any [coronavirus] measures will probably be advisory. I feel it will be very troublesome to enshrine them in regulation after which as soon as once more ask our poor police forces to implement them,” after the emergence of the video.

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and Amy Cassidy contributed to this report.