British PM under fire over video of staff joking
08 December 2021, 02:17 pm | Updated: 07 December 2023, 01:18 pm
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under fire Wednesday after a video emerged of his senior aides joking about holding a Christmas party at Downing Street last year when social gatherings were banned under Covid-19 rules.
The government has been accused repeatedly of hypocrisy over breaches of lockdown rules and in a major scandal health secretary Matt Hancock resigned in June after revelations that he broke coronavirus restrictions during an affair with an aide.
The video, obtained by broadcaster ITV News, shows Johnson's then press secretary Allegra Stratton, advisor Ed Oldfied and other staff joking about “a fictional party” during a rehearsal press conference on December 22, with no media present.
In the leaked footage, Stratton is seen answering questions about a Downing Street Christmas party the previous Friday--when the alleged rule--breaking gathering took place.
“This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced,” she laughs over joking exchanges about “cheese and wine”.
At that time, London was under strict Covid-19 restrictions and indoor social gatherings of two or more people were banned.
In response to the video, Downing Street insisted: "There was no Christmas party. Covid-19 rules have been followed at all times."
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, blasted the government for its "shameful" actions at a time when Britain was under lockdown.
“People across the country followed the rules, even when that meant being separated from loved ones. They had a right to expect the government was doing the same,” Starmer tweeted, with a link to the video.
“To lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful. We have a Prime Minister who's socially distanced from the truth.”
The leader of the Scottish National Party, Ian Blackford, said the prime minister could not be trusted and called for him to resign.
Here we have Number 10, a government in London, breaching its own Covid-19 rules and then joking about it on a video," Blackford told STV News.
“It really isn't acceptable and I have to say, unfortunately, that on the basis of this behaviour...he should go, and he should go now.”
Some lawmakers from Johnson's Conservative Party also wanted answers.
“The No.10 party has all the hallmarks of another 'Barnard Castle' moment,” North Thanet MP Roger Gale tweeted.
Category : International