Merk argiewe: leaked

Leaked recording shows Downing Street staff joking about Christmas party in No 10

Leaked recording shows Downing Street staff joking about Christmas party in No 10
Spokesperson joked that party could be passed off as ‘business meeting’

Senior Downing Street staff recorded themselves joking about holding a banned Christmas party in No 10, leaked footage shows.

In die video obtained by ITV News Boris Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton joked that the party waswas not socially distancedand suggested passing it off asa business meeting”.

The footage was recorded as a rehearsal for planned televised press briefings, with mock questions posted by the prime minister’s special advisor Ed Oldfield and other staff.

Mr Oldfield can be heard to mockingly ask Ms Stratton: “I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street party on Friday night. Do you recognise those reports?”

The spokesperson says: “I went home”, before laughing.

Die video, dating from 22 Desember, was recorded just four days after the Christmas party allegedly took place – on 18 Desember, which was a Friday.

At a key moment in the video another staff member in the room says: “It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine.” 'N Ander een, apparently seriously, klink in: “Just to be clear, it’s not a party.

At this point Ms Stratton quietly mouthsthis is recordedto the other No 10 personeel, and switches to referring to the party asfictional”.

It comes after a week of anger over the reported Downing Street bash, which is said to have taken place despite lockdown rules.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said it wasshamefulfor the government tolie and laugh about those lies”.

Hy het bygevoeg: “The Prime Minister now needs to come clean, and apologise. It cannot be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.”

SNP’s Westminster Leader Ian Blackford meanwhile said the video wasdamning and leaves the Prime Minister with a lot to answer for”.

Hy het bygevoeg: “If this is true, then the Prime Minister’s position is untenable and he must remove himself from office immediately.

And one source who was aware of the party in Downing Street told ITV News: “We all know someone who died from Covid and after seeing this all in the papers I couldn’t not say anything. I’m so angry about it all, the way it is being denied.

Boris Johnson insisted on Tuesday that No 10 staff followed all Covid rules, while chancellor Rishi Sunak denied attending the alleged bash.

Die 18 December gathering reportedly featured an email invitation and “secret Santa” gifts.

Die gebeurtenis, the existence of which emerged nearly a year after it happened, took place at a time when parties were banned under lockdown rules.

Asked in the Commons on Tuesday morning tocategorically deny” daardie “he or any of his officials or spads (special advisers) attended any of the Downing Street Christmas parties”, Mr Sunak said:

“Geen, I did not attend any parties.He made no comment on whether his officials or advisors had attended.

Speaking later in the day during a visit to HMP Isis in London, Boris Johnson said: “What I can tell you is that all the guidelines were observed, continue to be observed.

Asked if he had investigated the incident personally, Mr Johnson said: “I am satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.

No.10 had previously claimed that no rules were broken during Matt Hancock’s affair with his aide and Dominic Cummingstrip to Barnard Castle – two events which ended in high-profile resignations.

A poll by. Savanta ComRes released on Tuesday found two thirds of the public believe Mr Johnson should apologise for the holding of the events, at least one of which he is reported to have been present at.

Three quarters of people, 75 persent, have heard of the story – a relatively high cut-through rate for Westminster goings-on.

Three in five say they understand that the party could not have taken place at the time without breaking Covid rules, terwyl 72 per cent believe there is one rule for the government versus the rest of the public.

This latter belief extends to 2019 Tory voters, 56 per cent of whom agree with the statement.

Just one in six voters say No.10 staff deserved a Christmas party.

Asked about the leaked video, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times.” Die Onafhanklike has approached Ms Stratton for comment.