Labour demands Boris Johnson comes to the Commons to explain ‘lies’ over ‘virtual’ quiz in Downing Street with Cabinet Secretary ‘set to rule this week’ on Partygate scandal
- PM facing demands to come to Commons to face grilling on ‘partygate’ claims
- Boris Johnson personally hosted a Christmas quiz at Downing Street last year
- Picture showed PM taking part with Number 10 insisting the event was ‘virtual’
- Sajid Javid said Cabinet Secretary’s probe will be able to cover the allegations
Boris Johnson is facing demands to face the Commons over ‘lies’ about Downing Street partygate allegations – amid claims the Cabinet Secretary could finish his probe this week.
Labour has warned that the PM ‘appears’ not to have told MPs the truth when he gave assurances that social distance regulations were not broken in No 10 last year.
The party is demanding that Mr Johnson ‘fesses up’ after the latest revelation that he acted as quiz master at another bash on December 15 2020, saying it is ‘very hard’ to see how the event obeyed the Tier 2 rules in force in London at the time.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sajid Javid indicated this morning that the quiz – which No10 insists was virtual – will be considered in the investigation being conducted by civil service chief Simon Case.
There are suggestions that probe could be completed as soon as this week, with Mr Johnson desperate to draw a line under the issue and focus on the threat from the Omicron variant.
Boris Johnson (pictured visiting a vaccination centre in Westminster today) is facing demands to face the Commons over ‘lies’ about Downing Street partygate allegations
Health Secretary Sajid Javid indicated this morning that the quiz will be considered in the investigation being conducted by civil service chief Simon Case
PARTIES IN DOWNING STREET
Dom’s Gone bash – November 13: Dominic Cummings alleges that the PM held a gathering at his grace-and-favour flat on November 13 last year, the day the adviser was ousted from Downing Street. Mr Cummings also suggested there had been ‘other flat parties’.
Leaving do – November 27: The Prime Minister reportedly gave a speech at a packed Number 10 leaving do for a ‘senior aide’. Sources claimed that ’40 or 50 people’ were present.
Quiz night – December 15: A Christmas quiz event was held for Number 10 staff on December 15. Everyone was apparently invited to attend and to form teams.
A picture has emerged of Boris Johnson acting as quizmaster over Zoom, flanked by two senior officials.
Downing Street has insisted the quiz was ‘virtual’.
Christmas party – December 18: Staff in Downing Street are believed to have held a Christmas party, with reports that dozens of people attended the event, some wearing festive jumpers and exchanging Secret Santa presents. London had been placed into Tier 3 restrictions on December 16 – the highest level of curbs on freedoms at the time which banned people from different households mixing indoors. Downing Street has said Boris Johnson did not attend the event.
… AND ELSEWHERE IN WHITEHALL
December 10: Then-education secretary Gavin Williamson hosted a Department for Education party for ‘up to 24 people’ on December 10. The gathering, which included food and drink, took place in the department’s canteen. The department has admitted the event happened.
December 14: About 25 people gathered in the basement of the Conservative party’s Matthew Parker St offices in Westminster. The Times reported last night that advisers at Conservative campaign headquarters held an event with Shaun Bailey, the party’s unsuccessful candidate for mayor of London this May.
Mr Case is already probing claims of a December Christmas party and November staff leaving do at No 10, as well as festive drinks at the Department for Education.
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Javid said: ‘I saw the photo of that quiz, like anyone else. What I can see is it’s a virtual quiz with the prime minister sitting at his desk.
‘I don’t know all the details. What I can see, it’s a virtual quiz.
‘And Simon Case has been given a broad remit to investigate anything that he thinks… any type of gathering in Downing Street that should be looked at on any particular day he wants to.
‘And so if he wants to look at this he will – that’s going to be a decision for him.
‘It’s not right, I think, for a minister to tell him what he should or should not investigate.’
Downing Street has confirmed Mr Johnson ‘briefly’ attended the ‘virtual’ quiz at the tail end of last year.
An image published by the Sunday Mirror shows the Prime Minister flanked by colleagues, one of whom is draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in the No 10 library.
The newspaper quoted a source claiming many staff were huddled by computers in their Downing Street offices, conferring on questions and drinking alcohol while the quiz was taking place.
Tier 2 restrictions that London was under on December 15 stated that there could be no social mixing of households indoors, apart from support bubbles, and a maximum of six people outside.
Official guidance set out that there should not be work lunches or parties ‘where that is a primarily social activity’ and was not exempted for ‘work purposes’.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Despite repeated denials of parties in Number 10, it has now transpired that there were numerous parties, gatherings and the Prime Minister even took part in a festive quiz.
‘It appears that Boris Johnson lied to the country and broke the law.
‘It is increasingly clear that the Prime Minister presided over a culture of ignoring the rules that he told everyone else to follow. It’s time to fess up.
‘Boris Johnson and the Conservatives really believe it’s one rule for them, another for everyone else.’
Mr Johnson has also faced allegations that he and Carrie were seen flouting coronavirus lockdown rules during a dinner at a London restaurant in October 2020.
The Sun on Sunday quoted eyewitnesses who said Mr Johnson was seen approaching the tables of other guests while not wearing a face covering, and that the couple did not leave the premises until after the 10pm curfew had passed.
At the time, venues in the capital were subject to strict rules which, as well as the curfew, required diners to wear face coverings when moving around and banned different households mixing.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: ‘It is categorically untrue to suggest the PM did not adhere to curfew rules in place at the time.
‘Any small delay would have been for operational security reasons.’
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