Politics

No10 plans for staff Christmas party – but denies rule-breaking drinks last year


Boris Johnson has been under sustained pressure after the Mirror revealed allegations that boozy parties were held in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year

Boris Johnson has faced pressure over claims of parties in No10 last year
Boris Johnson has faced pressure over claims of parties in No10 last year

Downing Street has said it still intends to hold a Christmas party for staff this year amid an ongoing row over festive Covid guidance.

Boris Johnson has been under sustained pressure after the Mirror revealed allegations that boozy parties were held in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year.

The PM gave a speech at a packed leaving do in November, during the second national lockdown, sources told the Mirror.

And revellers at an unofficial No10 Christmas bash on December 18 allegedly enjoyed food, drinks and games which went on well past midnight.

Millions of people were living under strict Covid rules at the time – with London under Tier 3 restrictions.

The following day Mr Johnson announced that Christmas plans had to be drastically scaled back.

No 10 is under growing pressure to explain what happened last year and the Met Police has been asked to consider whether Covid restrictions were broken by two Labour MPs.







Boris Johnson samples an Isle of Harris Gin as he visits a market set up in Downing Street
(

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman declined to say whether an internal investigation had been carried out.

“There was not a party, and Covid rules have been followed at all times,” he said.

No10 has refused to answer questions about the alleged events but repeatedly insisted no rules have been broken.

The spokesman added that Downing Street was still considering holding a staff party this year despite Mr Raab ruling out one for the Ministry of Justice.

The spokesman said: “We haven’t confirmed any dates at the moment.

“I think there is an intention to have a Christmas party this year.

“There is nothing in the limited restrictions that we’ve introduced that would prevent Christmas parties from taking place.”

Home Office Minister Kit Malthouse said he had been assured that no rules had been broken – but also that he knew nothing about it.

He told Sky News: “I know nothing about it – I’ve been assured by No 10 that no rules were broken if there was a gathering of any kind.

“No 10 are reassuring everybody that all rules were complied with during that period and I take that reassurance at face value, but no doubt if the police are alerted they will have a look and they will form a view and we’ll learn more about it in the days to come.

“The police should be investigating anything that is a historic crime to them.”

Meanwhile, ministers have sowed confusion by giving conflicting statements about Covid guidance for the festive period.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that people should not cancel their Christmas plans, and nativity plays and festive bashes should go ahead.

But some schools and businesses have cancelled their plans due to fears over the Omicron variant.

Speaking on a visit to Liverpool as he set out his new drugs policy, he denied the UK has been too slow to respond to Omicron.

“I don’t think we need to change the overall guidance and advice we’re giving about Omicron in this country,” he said. “We’re still waiting to see exactly how dangerous it is, what sort of effect it has in terms of deaths and hospitalisations.”

Asked if he could say for certain there wouldn’t be social restrictions before Christmas, the PM says Christmas will be “considerably better than last Christmas – with the possible exception for the county lines drugs gangs”.

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