Boris Johnson Apologises For "Offence Caused" By Footage Of Downing Street Staff Mocking Covid Restrictions
Boris Johnson has “apologised unreservedly” for a video depicting Downing Street staff laughing about appearing to break coronavirus restrictions by hosting a Christmas Party.
During an explosive Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesdaty, Johnson told a packed Commons: “I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing Number 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures”.
“I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that the people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules,” Johnson continued.
“I was also furious to see that clip. I apologise unreservedly for the offence that is has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression that it gives.
Last night ITV released leaked footage of senior Number 10 staff joking and laughing about holding a Christmas party in what appeared to be a news conference rehearsal for the Johnson's then press secretary Allegra Stratton.
"This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced," Stratton laughed.
Number 10 continues to insist there was no party and Covid rules were followed at all times, an assertion reiterated by Johnson to the Commons today.
“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’ve been repeatedly assured,” he said.
The Prime Minister also announced that he has instructed Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to investigate the allegations of a Downing Street Christmas party and its surrounding circumstances.
“It goes without saying that if rules were broken then there will be disciplinary action for all those involved,” Johnson said.
After being pushed on the matter by Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister committed to supporting the police and crown prosecution service with any investigations they may hold into coronavirus restrictions being broken in Downing Street, including through handing over "everything the government knows" about the parties to the Metropolitan Police.
Labour leader Keir Starmer told the Commons that Johnson’s apology “raises more questions than answers”.
“The Prime Minister and the government spent the week telling the British public there was no party, all guidance was followed completely,” the Labour leader said.
“Millions of people now think the PM was taking them for fools and that they were lied to. They’re right aren’t they?”
The leader of the opposition also mentioned comments by TV personalities Ant and Dec, who made reference to the Downing Street Christmas bash on an episode of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
"Surely the Prime Minister isn't going to start pretending that the first he knew about this was last night," Starmer said.
"We've 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's obvious what happened - Ant and Dec are ahead of the Prime Minister on this."
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