Boris Johnson today announced a probe by the Cabinet Secretary – but it won’t even look at alleged events on November 13 and 27 last year
Image: Humphrey Nemar)
Boris Johnson’s inquiry into the No10 Christmas party will NOT probe claims there was a second event that the PM spoke at himself.
The Prime Minister finally apologised after a clip emerged of his own staff joking about a “not socially distanced” bash on December 18 last year.
Saying he was ‘sickened’, Mr Johnson told PMQs: “I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to establish all the facts and report back as soon as possible.
“And it goes without saying that if those rules were broken there will be disciplinary action for all those involved.”
But the Prime Minister’s spokesman almost immediately confirmed the Cabinet Secretary’s inquiry will only cover the events of December 18 last year.
That means the Cabinet Secretary investigation will NOT cover a second alleged event on November 27, during a national lockdown.
Sources claimed 40 or 50 people were packed into a room at No10 for a leaving do – at which the Prime Minister spoke.
No10 today refused to deny there was a party or gathering on November 27, and refused to repeat the claim that “there was no party” on December 18.
The Cabinet Secretary’s probe will also not cover an alleged party in the Downing Street flat on November 13, which ex-aide Dominic Cummings has claimed took place.
A spokeswoman for Carrie Johnson previously flatly denied she had held any parties at the flat while restrictions were in place, adding: “This is total nonsense.
“Mrs Johnson has followed coronavirus rules at all times and it is categorically untrue to suggest otherwise.”
Asked at PMQs if there was a party in Downing Street on November 13, the PM replied: “No, but I’m sure that whatever happened the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”
The PM’s official spokesman confirmed the probe will not cover any other parties on any other days. He said: “He [the Cabinet Secretary [has] been asked to establish the facts on any event on the 18th [of December]. And that’s what he will start work on.”
Asked to clarify if it would not cover other parties on other days he replied: “The Prime Minister’s addressed some of that today, the Cabinet Secretary has been asked to address any events on the 18th.”
However, there is nothing to stop police probing any event in No10 regardless of date.
Asked if he’d hand over “everything the Government knows about parties in Downing Street to the Metropolitan Police”, Mr Johnson replied: “Of course we will do that.”
Last night the Metropolitan Police said: “We are aware of footage obtained by ITV News relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at a Government building in December 2020.
“It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid-19 regulations, however the footage will form part of our considerations.”
The spokesman also said Allegra Stratton – the spokeswoman seen laughing in a mock press briefing about the party – had not been suspended and the PM had full confidence in her.
Mr Johnson today finally “apologised unreservedly” over a No10 Christmas party – but denied all responsibility, continued to claim he was told rules were followed, and threw his own staff under the bus.
Mr Johnson said he was “sickened and furious” at a clip of his own staff laughing about a Christmas bash four days after it happened last December, when lockdown rules banned social gatherings.
After a week of stonewalling questions, and No10 claiming there was no party, the PM announced an investigation by the Cabinet Secretary and disciplinary action if the rules were broken.
As Boris Johnson accused Sir Keir of “playing politics”, Labour’s leader said: “It’s obvious what happened – Ant and Dec are ahead of the Prime Minister on this. The PM has been caught red handed.
“Why doesn’t he end the investigation right now by just admitting it?”
He added: “Millions of people now think the Prime Minister was taking them for fools and there were lied to. They’re right, aren’t they?”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said people had “sacrificed at times to the point of breaking while the UK government has laughed in our faces”.
Demanding the PM quit he said: “He can no longer lead on the most pressing issue facing these islands. The only right and moral choice left to him is for his resignation.”
Mr Johnson replied: “The party opposite are going to continue to play politics. I am going to get on with the job.”