Downing Street Christmas party: Hampshire MPs react to allegations

HAMPSHIRE MPs have reacted to allegations of a lockdown Christmas party at No 10 and a video showing Downing Street staff joking about a festive bash.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 5:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 5:41 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson in front of the Downing Street Christmas tree Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry to establish whether lockdown rules were broken.

The news follows allegations of a Christmas party at No 10 on December 18, 2020 - when indoors gatherings in London were banned unless ‘reasonably necessary’ for work.

Downing Street denied that a party had taken place at all on December 18.

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But in a video obtained by ITV News, Downing Street staff are seen joking about a Christmas party.

Boris Johnson apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the offence caused by the video clip and said he was ‘furious’ to see it.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said she has not attended an event at No 10 since the pandemic began.

She said: ‘It’s vital that those who set the rules must follow the rules. Today the Prime Minister reiterated that he has been assured that no rules were broken last year, but that he has asked the Cabinet Secretary to undertake an inquiry. I spent Christmas 2020 in Gosport with my family, following the rules and unable to see my parents or friends like everyone else.’

Flick Drummond, Conservative MP for Meon Valley, said the actions of the Downing Street staff who appeared in the video were ‘totally unacceptable’.

‘I welcome the investigation into whether any rules were broken. If they were, I would like to see those responsible face the full consequences,’ she said.

Ms Drummond added: ‘My focus right now is helping my constituents and promoting all the good work this government is undertaking to fight Covid, including the amazing vaccination programme.’

But the Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said ‘once again it’s one rule for the Prime Minister, and another for the rest of us.’

He added: ‘They partied, we paid the price. Number 10 must now hand over everything they know about parties they held to the Metropolitan Police and come clean on exactly what has happened. Trying to kick this into the long grass with an investigation led by the Cabinet Secretary is simply not going to wash with the people of Portsmouth and the country. They deserve far better than this.”

Reacting to the news, Alan Whitehead - Labour MP for Southampton Test - described the events as ‘shameful’.

‘I think anyone at the party should not only resign but be subject to the same penalties as everyone else who was caught breaking the rules,’ he added and stressed that on December 18 last year he was working from home in Southampton.

Southampton Itchen Conservative MP Royston Smith also confirmed he was in Southampton in December last year.

Talking about the alleged Christmas party he added: ‘Currently I have not seen any actual evidence, merely an accusation in the Daily Mirror. If evidence is presented it is likely the staff in Number 10 (who are the actual accused) could be sacked a couple of weeks before Christmas. It is not the PM, or the Conservative Party people are attacking, it is normal people working in Downing Street in order to score political points. What we do know is the PM was not at any alleged gathering.’

Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said she ‘of course was not at any party at Downing Street’.

Meanwhile, the office for Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative MP for New Forest East said: ‘I don’t think Dr Lewis would like to talk about this [the Christmas party]. He doesn’t do this sort of thing.’

All the other MPs across Hampshire were also approached for comment, but declined to respond.