Boris Johnson will face one of the most challenging Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) of his leadership today as he prepares to face a grilling on the Number 10 Christmas party scandal engulfing the government.
A video was leaked to ITV yesterday of government aide Allegra Stratton joking about having an illegal Christmas party at Number 10 last year in a mock press conference.
It came after a week of Number 10 staff denying there had been a Christmas party during strict Covid restrictions last year in the face of press stories from The Mirror and The Times.
Johnson has come under intense fire from the opposition and from his own MPs for the debacle, with one government source telling the BBC that “it looks like PM doesn’t know what is going on or the operation is so shambolic that they thought that was acceptable”.
One senior Tory told The Telegraph: “We’re f***ed. How could they be so stupid.”
Ministers went to ground this morning, with no members of the government going on any morning news programmes.
However, foreign secretary Liz Truss was asked about the debacle this morning at an event for the Chatham House think tank.
“It’s in everybody’s interest that we follow the Covid rules and that we boost our vaccines as soon as we practically can and there have been steps up in the booster campaign and that’s obviously very important,” Truss said.
“As to the alleged events in Number 10, I don’t know the detail of what happened, I know the Prime Minister’s spokesperson answered those questions in detail yesterday and I’m sure there will be further discussion of that issue.”
The video leaked last night shows Stratton taking questions from other Number 10 staff in a mock press conference.
Stratton, a former ITV journalist, was lined up to take televised Number 10 press conferences, before the idea was scrapped.
She can be heard joking in the video about Number 10 staff having a “cheese and wine” night on 18 December last year – a time when social events were banned in London – when asked by another staff member about what she would say if asked about Downing Street’s “party”.
Stratton also implied during the mock press conference that she would pass off the party as a “business meeting”.
She also said the party was “not socially distanced”.