Tory Backbenchers Are "Apoplectic" Over Leaked No.10 Christmas Party Discussion
Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Downing Street. Credit: Alamy.
Furious Tory backbenchers have said Boris Johnson must explain the leaked "Christmas Party" footage at Prime Minister's Questions today, avoid bluster and give "straight" answers.
As tensions continue to rise within the Conservative party over the details of a gathering in Downing Street on 18 December 2020, first reported by The Mirror, when Christmas parties were restricted for the general public and London was in top tier rules.
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 PM's then press secretary Allegra Stratton.
"This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced," Stratton said.
Number 10 insist there was no party and Covid rules were followed at all times.
Tory MPs in the Commons early this morning, and meeting over breakfast, were said to be either "apoplectic" over the issue, or believe that the story will blow over.
One said: "Half don't think it's a problem, and half are fucking apoplectic. For those saying it'll blow over I just think 'are you mad?'."
"This issue now rests on two things, first what the Prime Minister does at Prime Minister's Questions today and second, if they start putting in more restrictions.
"If they start bringing in restrictions they are then in a position where they're bringing the people who are usually happy with them into an argument that the public won't take any notice now anyway," they said.
There will be even more anger if the Prime Minister denies there was a party today, and people are looking for "honest answers and straight talking".
"If there's bluster he can fuck right off," he said.
One senior Tory MP said they had been asked to defend the government on the radio this morning but declined.
"I have turned down several offers to defend the PM. Why would I?," they said.
They added that the story was now "nuclear" and that officials would have to resign.
Tory WhatsApp groups were either "thunderous with fury" or "quiet with shock", they explained.
Ministers doing interviews on other issues have been asked repeatedly about reports of a party, with answers ranging from ministers saying they weren't there personally but that rules were followed, to deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab saying on Sunday reports of a party were "unsubstantiated claims".
Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris, took a different view on Twitter this morning.
"Clearly there were rules in place that most of us were diligently following (despite how difficult they were) and they decided to break them," she wrote.
"It's not on and, at the very least, they should admit their blatant error and apologise for breaking the rules they imposed on society."
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