| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

UK PM Johnson under fire over Christmas lockdown party

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson drew criticism when a video surfaced showing his employees laughing and joking about how to explain a gathering in Downing Street during a COVID lockdown last Christmas when such gatherings were prohibited.

Johnson and his ministers have consistently denied that the gatherings in late 2020 violated any regulations, however the Mirror newspaper reported that Johnson spoke at a departure party and that his team had a wine-fueled gathering of 40 to 50 individuals.

In a video shown by ITV, Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s press secretary at the time, was seen smiling and joking about the gathering during a 2020 Downing Street rehearsal for a daily briefing.

The uproar comes as the government considers imposing further limitations on the public in order to combat the new coronavirus variety Omicron.

It comes after a spate of scandals that have caused opposition MPs to accuse the Johnson administration of favoritism and corruption, as well as acting as if the rules do not apply to them.

“I’ve just read claims on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night – do you recognize those stories?” a Johnson aide asks Stratton in the video.

Standing in front of British flags at an official Downing Street podium, Stratton chuckles and adds, “I went home.” She then smiles and laughs.

“Please be patient. Hold on. UM. Er. Arh.” She seemed to be at a loss for words and glances up.

Newspapers were overwhelmingly critical.

The top headline of the Daily Mail, Britain’s best-selling tabloid, read, “A sick joke.” “No. 10 Party Clowns,” Metro remarked. According to the Guardian, “PM accused of lying after No 10 team videotaped joking about party.”

Conservative Party MP Roger Gale stated that if the House of Commons was willfully mislead about the party, it would be grounds for resignation.

Keir Starmer, the head of the opposition Labour Party, said the film was an insult to people who had obeyed lockdown regulations even if it meant being away from their family over Christmas.

“They had every right to expect the government to do the same. It is disgusting to lie and then chuckle about it “In a statement, Starmer stated. “The prime minister must now come clean and apologize.”

The Scottish National Group’s Ian Blackford, the second-largest opposition party in parliament, has called on Johnson to resign.

  • Reuters