Ian Blackford calls for Boris Johnson to resign after Downing Street party video leak
Ian Blackford calls for PM to resign over Christmas party scandal
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The SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford insisted the Prime Minister must resign after allegedly holding a Downing Street Christmas party during heightened coronavirus restrictions. On Tuesday, Downing Street again insisted there was no Christmas party and coronavirus rules had been followed at all times. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also called on Mr Johnson to “come clean and apologise”, adding that for aides “to lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful”.
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Blackford said: “Boris Johnson has to resign. Everybody followed the Covid rules last year.
“People were told by the Government, by Boris Johnson what they were expected to do.
“I’m hearing from constituents tonight that are just frankly ashamed of what has happened here.”
It comes as footage obtained by ITV News showed Ms Stratton answering questions at a mock press conference on December 22 about a Downing Street Christmas party the previous Friday – the date of the alleged rule-breaking gathering.
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Mr Oldfield asked her: “I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?”
Ms Stratton replied “I went home” before appearing to consider what the correct answer should be.
During the rehearsal, filmed as part of a subsequently-abandoned plan for Ms Stratton to lead televised press briefings, Mr Oldfield pressed her for an answer.
“Would the Prime Minister condone having a Christmas party?” he asked.
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Ms Stratton asked “what’s the answer” and staff in the press room appeared to suggest ideas, with one saying “it wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine”.
“Is cheese and wine all right? It was a business meeting,” Ms Stratton replied, to laughter in the room.
Ms Stratton then noted “this is recorded”, adding: “This fictional party was a business meeting … and it was not socially distanced.”
The leaked footage was shot in the media room at 9 Downing Street, which was refurbished at a cost of £2.6 million in preparation for the televised broadcasts before the plan was ditched.
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The Metropolitan Police confirmed officers are reviewing the leaked video in relation to “alleged breaches” of coronavirus regulations.
In response to ITV’s report, a Downing Street spokesman said: “There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times.”
Earlier, Mr Johnson declined to repeat the claim from Downing Street that staff did not hold a Christmas party in No 10 during Covid restrictions.
The Prime Minister instead insisted no rules were broken as the Times reported that staff wore festive jumpers and were asked to bring “secret Santa” gifts.
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