Boris Johnson insists ‘I certainly broke no rules’ amid Christmas quiz probe
Boris Johnson has insisted “I certainly broke no rules” but said the Whitehall investigation into potentially lockdown-breaking Christmas parties in No 10 will include his festive quiz.
Mr Johnson denied the claims on Monday and confirmed Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s investigation will include the quiz.
The head of the Civil Service was already investigating claims of a December Christmas party and November staff leaving do at No 10, as well as festive drinks at the Department for Education.
Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson “briefly” attended the “virtual” quiz, reported to have been held on December 15 last year, after photographic evidence emerged.
An image published by the Sunday Mirror shows the Prime Minister flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in the No 10 library.
The newspaper quoted a source who said 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 in London on December 15 said there could be no mixing of households indoors, apart from support bubbles, and a maximum of six people outside.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington in west London, the Prime Minister said: “I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules – the whole thing will be looked into by the Cabinet Secretary, and what I’m focused on, frankly, is the vaccine rollout.”
Pressed if that means Mr Case’s investigation will include the quiz, Mr Johnson replied: “He’s looking at all these things. Is that the thing with the Zoom call? Yeah.”
He said the results would come back “as soon as we reasonably can” as he stressed the need for booster jabs to combat the threat of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Labour said the Prime Minister “might have misled” MPs after he told the Commons he had been given assurances that social distancing regulations were not broken by No 10 last year.
Sir Keir Starmer said it is “very hard” to see how the Tier 2 rules could have been adhered to in the quiz.
Official guidance set out there should be no work lunches or parties “where that is a primarily social activity” and they were not exempted for “work purposes”.
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said the Prime Minister’s credibility is “in tatters”.
Asked why Sir Keir stopped short of calling for Mr Johnson to resign, instead saying he was “unfit to lead”, Mr Lammy said: “Well, that must, in the end, be a matter for the Prime Minister.”
He said of Johnson: “He’s got to come clean with the British public.
“It really is quite unacceptable that this is seen as something that is sort of humorous, or something that isn’t serious, or something that suggests that there can be one rule for a prime minister and those in No 10 and another rule for the British public.”
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