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“They Partied, We Paid,” Says Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner

10 Downing Street, the location for some of the alleged parties during Covid-19 restrictions last year.
Hannah Walton-Hughes

Suspicions over a 2020 Downing Street Christmas party have sparked outrage up and down the country. Impact‘s Hannah Walton-Hughes reports on the allegations and what they could mean for the PM.

The leaked video shows a mock press conference

On Tuesday, a shocking video was leaked, showing the PM’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton and a number of other MPs making jokes about a Christmas gathering that took place in Downing Street last December 18th, when get-togethers of large groups were banned.

The suspected party happened just three days before London moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4 COVID restrictions.

The leaked video shows a mock press conference, with Johnson’s aides in attendance. When asked whether Boris Johnson would “condone” having a Christmas party, Stratton grinned and replied “What’s the answer?”. The group then discussed the best ways in which to explain what the party was. “Wine and cheese” was suggested as a response, and then a “business meeting” was settled on. But the “business meeting”, according to Stratton, “was not socially distanced.”

Since the release of the video, the Prime Minister has come under intense scrutiny, from members of his own party, members of the Opposition, and there has been fury from the wider public.

Sir Keir Starmer said that the UK population had “followed the rules even when that meant being separated from their families”, and the Labour Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, commented that Downing Street “partied, we paid.”

Tragic stories from the public have also dominated headlines in the past few days. Rachel Rahman, who wasn’t able to see her terminally ill mother, described how the breaking of rules by the government “stuck in her throat”. She was one of so many who had to make huge sacrifices because of the strict COVID restrictions.

In response to the claims, Boris Johnson has tried to reassure the public that there will be an investigation into what happened. Soon after the video was released, he told MPs in the Commons that he was assured no party had took place, and all guidelines were followed.

Nonetheless, restrictions at the time still meant that recreational get-togethers were banned, even if social distancing was practised. Only certain work gatherings were permitted.

Since the initial leak, suspicions of other Christmas parties have emerged, taking place at both No.10 and other venues. One of these parties is thought to have been a leaving do.

Questions remain as to how these damning claims will affect the Conservative Party

Questions remain as to how these damning claims will affect the Conservative Party, and the Prime Minister himself. After the resignation of Allegra Stratton, the future of those found to have been involved in the Christmas party will undoubtedly be uncertain.

Hannah Walton-Hughes

Featured image courtesy of Number 10 via Flickr. Image licence found here. No changes were made to this image.

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