Downing Street Christmas party: Boris Johnson says 'disciplinary action for everyone involved' in No 10 party

Downing Street Christmas party: Boris Johnson says 'disciplinary action for everyone involved' in No 10 party
8 Boris Party
Samantha Haynes

By Samantha Haynes

Published: 08/12/2021

- 12:06

Updated: 08/12/2021

- 12:21

The Prime Minister speaking in the House of Commons denies a Christmas party took place

Boris Johnson has asked the Cabinet Secretary to investigate claims about a Christmas party in Downing Street last year, telling MPs he was “furious” at footage of aides apparently joking about it.

Boris Johnson told MPs: “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.”

Boris Johnson added: “I have asked the Cabinet Secretary 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.”

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.”

This comes after the Metropolitan Police say they are reviewing footage of Downing Street staff laughing and joking about a Christmas party as they consider whether or not to investigate.

The organisation said "We are aware of footage obtained by ITV News relating to alleged breaches of the Health ProtectionRegulations at a Government building in December 2020.

"It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid 19 regulations, however the footage will form part of our considerations."

Senior aides to Boris Johnson joked about a Downing Street Christmas party just days after staff are alleged to have held a festive gathering in breach of lockdown rules.

The Prime Minister’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, were filmed joking about a “fictional” party in December 2020.

The footage obtained by ITV News showed Ms Stratton answering questions at a mock press conference on December 22 about a Downing Street Christmas party the previous Friday – the date of the alleged rule-breaking gathering.

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