Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup came unstuck on a tricky episode of BBC Question Time over Downing Street parties as host Fiona Bruce told her: ‘Everyone’s laughing Maggie’
A BBC audience laughed openly at a Tory minister as she tried to defend a No10 party – insisting “all guidance was followed”.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup came unstuck on Question Time over the Mirror’s revelation that there were two No10 bashes in November and December last year.
Boris Johnson is said to have spoken at the first, during England’s national lockdown, while a Christmas party was then held when London was under Tier 3 rules.
Downing Street has repeatedly refused to deny the gatherings took place, at a time when they would only have been legal if “reasonably necessary for work”.
Ms Throup was asked a question by an audience member on the BBC panel debate show, who said: “This time last year, my parents are from south London, so we couldn’t go see them.
“They both had Covid – we followed the guidance, we did what we were told.
“I’m stuck in Weston-super-mare, mum and dad are at home in South Norwood. Then you hear ‘they’re having Christmas parties while we are suffering?’
“It makes me sick. It really does, it makes me really upset.”
Ms Throup replied: “Well I respect that people put up with a lot over the last 20 months. Nobody could have predicted what was going to happen.”
Asked about the party, however, she replied: “The Prime Minister said quite clearly on Wednesday at PMQs that all guidance was followed.”
Host Fiona Bruce hit back: “That wasn’t the question he was asked, which I think is why everyone’s laughing Maggie.
“Was there a Christmas party or wasn’t there?”
The minister replied: “I wasn’t there. Like the deputy leader of the Labour Party, I wasn’t invited to what was happening at No10, if anyone was happening.”
At this point Ms Bruce interjected to ask the audience, saying: “Who wants to know if there was a Christmas party or not? Come on Maggie.”
A flurry of hands went up in the travelling studio.
Ms Throup branded the claims ‘rumour and hearsay’, adding: “I am not aware of the Christmas party.
“Number 10 is a workplace and I’ve been reassured that all guidance was carefully followed.”
The audience appeared to give a ‘no’ when asked if she had answered the question. She replied: “My answer is not going to change because the guidance was followed.”