Boris apologises for video showing staff mocking reports of Downing Street Christmas party

Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised on Wednesday for a video showing his staffers joking about reports of a party in Downing Street during last winter’s COVID-19 lockdown, saying he was furious but that he had been assured there was no party. It comes as a clip of the prime minister’s then-press secretary Allegra Stratton has emerged in which she appears saying, in a jokingly tone: “This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”

Mr Johnson told parliament at the start of prime minister’s questions: “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.

“I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures.

“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.”

Amid laugher, she answers: “I went home.

“Hold on, hold on.

“Erm, err…”

She is then asked whether the prime minister would condone having a Christmas party, to which Mr Stratton reacts, again, with laughter.

She replies: “What’s the answer?”

A colleague jokes: “It wasn’t a party… it was cheese and wine.”

She asks: “Is cheese and wine alright?

“It was a business meeting.”

And they all burst into laughter.

Ms Stratton adds: “No, joking!

“This is recorded.

“This fictional party was a business meeting… and it was not socially distanced.”

Mr Johnson told the Commons on Wednesday: “I can understand how infuriating it would be to think that the people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules.”

He also said he had instructed Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, to look into the matter of the Christmas party, and that any staff found to have breached rules would face disciplinary action. 

He claimed: “I have asked the cabinet secretary to establish all the facts and to report back as soon as possible.

“It goes without saying that if those rules were broken then there will be disciplinary action for all those involved.”


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