Boris Johnson has come under fire over claims he held a ‘boozy’ Christmas party at Downing Street last year during lockdown.
The issue was raised at Westminster during PMQs on Wednesday, after the Mirror newspaper reported that he and his Downing Street staff broke Covid rules by attending two parties in the run-up to last Christmas.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged Johnson over the accusations, who did not deny the claims despite being asked the question several times.
Starmer asked the Prime Minister: “As millions of people were locked down last year, was a Christmas party thrown in Downing Street for dozens of people on December 18?”
Johnson responded: “What I can tell (Starmer) is that all guidance was followed completely.”
Starmer continued: “The defence seems to be, ‘no rules were broken’. Well, I’ve got the rules that were in place at the time Prime Minister… they’re very clear – ‘you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party’.
“Does the Prime Minister really expect the country to believe that while people were banned from seeing their loved ones at Christmas last year, it was fine for him and his friends to throw a boozy party in Downing Street?”
Rather than denying the claim, Johnson instead focused on what steps are being taken this year to tackle the Omicron variant.
He said: “I’ve said what I’ve said about Number 10 and the events of 12 months ago, but since he asks about what we’re asking the country to do this year, which I think is frankly a more relevant consideration, the important thing to do is not only to follow the guidance which we have set out.
“But also, when it comes to dealing with the Omicron variant, to make sure that you wear a mask on public transport and in shops, and that you self-isolate if you come into contact with somebody who has Omicron.
“And above all what we’re doing is strengthening our measures at the borders, but particularly, and I think this will be very valuable for everybody to hear – get your booster.”
Starmer added: “The Prime Minister doesn’t deny there was a Downing Street Christmas party last year, he’s not denied it.
“He says no rules were broken, both of those things can’t be true Prime Minister. He’s taking the British public for fools.”
The issue was also raised by the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who on Tuesday led a debate on the conduct of the Prime Minister.
“It is deeply regrettable that once again we are forced to spend so much time in this House discussing the Prime Minister’s misconduct,” he told the Commons.
“But when the person in charge so blatantly breaks the rules, it needs to be talked about.
“Last Christmas, the Prime Minister hosted a packed party in Downing Street – an event that broke his own lockdown rules. Rules that everyone else was expected to follow.
“The Prime Minister might be denying it, but I’ve spoken to the Mirror newspaper this morning and they are confirming what happened and they have legal advice on potential illegality.
“At a time when public health messaging is so vital, how are people possibly expected to trust a Prime Minister when he thinks it is one rule for him and one rule for everybody else?”
Johnson responded by suggesting that Blackford was “talking total nonsense”, adding that he should instead be talking about those impacted by Storm Arwen.