'Hypocritical' - what do our MPs make of alleged No 10 Christmas party?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covi

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). - Credit: PA

An MP has branded an alleged Christmas party in Downing Street last December "hypocritical", as the prime minister insisted it did not happen.

Boris Johnson has come under fire over an alleged Covid rule-breaking gathering in Downing Street which was said to have been attended by dozens of colleagues while social mixing indoors was banned under Tier 3 restrictions last December.

And on Tuesday night, in footage obtained by ITV News, the prime minister's then-press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, were filmed joking about a “fictional” Downing Street party in December 2020.

It has led to widespread anger, including from those whose loved ones died during the pandemic and those whose livelihoods were threatened.

In prime minister's questions on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Johnson apologised for how the footage looked and said he was "also furious" after viewing it, but said there was no party and no Covid rules were broken.

We've asked our region's MPs for their thoughts - whether the party went ahead and, if so, whether it should have, what they think constituents would make of it and what they think should happen next.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: “Boris Johnson was behaving in a hypocritical way at a time when people couldn’t hold the hands of their loved ones as they died.  

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“But this is a much bigger problem than this one incident. We have a party in charge of a country that doesn’t care about anybody other than themselves and their supporters.  

“We’ve already had the Dominic Cummings debacle, the lies over NHS hospitals and the shambles of levelling up.  

“How much more of this can we take? We have to stop voting these people into power.” 

South West Norfolk MP and foreign secretary Liz Truss has not responded to request but insisted “we do follow the rules on Covid” as she was questioned about the alleged Downing Street Christmas party.

South West Norfolk MP and international trade secretary Elizabeth Truss. Picture: Ian Burt

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss. - Credit: IAN BURT

She told an event at the Chatham House think tank: “As to alleged events in Number 10, I don’t know the detail of what happened.

“I know that the prime minister's spokesman answered those questions in detail yesterday and I am sure there will be further discussion of that issue.”

Asked why citizens should trust an administration that did not follow the rules, she added: “We do follow the rules on Covid.”

But “I’m not aware of the precise circumstances and I know the prime minister's spokesman has addressed that issue”.

On Wednesday morning, Waveney MP Peter Aldous called on the prime minister to "hold his hands up and apologise" after the footage emerged.

MP Peter Aldous, who represents Waveney. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

MP Peter Aldous, who represents Waveney. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

Mr Aldous said: "This story has been rumbling away over the last few weeks and my inclination was to accept what the prime minister had said that no rules had been broken and give them the benefit of the doubt.

"The news overnight and the release of the video does cast the situation in a different light."

And Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, said: "Like many constituents, I am extremely upset at the lack of respect and dignity that people working in the very heart of government, who were supposedly leading the country, showed.

"It signals such an utter lack of responsibility, while people throughout the country were abiding by the rules and sacrificing so much. I have previously spoken out against breaches of the rules and integrity. Trust in public life matters.

"While we are still told there was no Christmas party, the leaked press studio footage gives me great concern.

"There has been no proper explanation, or any effort to show understanding to how this sort of behaviour lacks empathy to how many people feel. I welcome an investigation; we need a clear answer on what went on once and for all.

"If there was a Christmas Party in Downing Street, that is indefensible and I expect full accountability to follow."

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, said: "Whilst I accept that a proper investigation needs to be undertaken when people’s jobs are at risk, if it confirms that there was a terrible breach of the rules, then those implicated should be removed from No 10. 

"I want the people supporting the prime minister and the government to follow the rules, just as we are asked to. It is not too much to expect."

James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk, said: “People across Norfolk have made incredible sacrifices throughout Covid and followed the rules meaning they have missed out on so many important moments.

"I share the anger of my constituents at the footage that has emerged. We urgently need to establish the facts and if rules have been broken then consequences for those involved must follow.”

Brandon Lewis, of Great Yarmouth, Chloe Smith, of Norwich North, Richard Bacon, of South Norfolk, and George Freeman, of Mid Norfolk, are yet to respond.

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