My children did not see their dying dad while Downing Street held Christmas party and mocked us – Jayne Dowle

AS the Prime Minister’s then spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, joked about last year’s Downing Street Christmas party in what appears to be leaked footage from a rehearsal press conference, my children were torn into knots of anxiety, guilt and fear.

File photo dated 22/04/20 of Allegra Stratton. Leaked footage from No 10's £2.6 million press briefing room emerged on Monday night which showed former press secretary Allegra Stratton laughing as she appeared to rehearse answers to questions over a lockdown-busting Christmas party.

Their terminally ill father was shielding in Surrey. Yet, while he could welcome visitors at his window, his county was under Tier 4 restrictions that meant no one could legally enter or leave the area.

We tried to make up for it, but like many families, were held back by the law.

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This makes the Prime Minister’s unreserved apology about the reported party in Downing Street totally impossible to swallow as the Government’s reputation disintegrates.

File photo dated 22/04/20 of Allegra Stratton. Leaked footage from No 10's £2.6 million press briefing room emerged on Monday night which showed former press secretary Allegra Stratton laughing as she appeared to rehearse answers to questions over a lockdown-busting Christmas party.

Now 12 months later their dad is dead, with Covid on his death certificate. He passed away in March after being admitted to hospital. At some point between the hospital – where coronavirus broke out – and returning home, he contracted the virus.

He went into a hospice and died less than a week later. His children said goodbye by video link on an awful Sunday afternoon when the nurse phoned and said “Get them to the phone, quickly please”.

Jack, 19, and Lizzie, 16, have been so resilient and philosophical, but now it’s hit them hard. No cards for dad this year, no presents to ponder over, no familiar voice and face at the end of the phone, no visit to plan, just nothing but memories and sadness.

So whilst Ms Stratton and her chums were laughing, my children were crying. And now, as I see her smug face on the video clip and listen to her former boss wheedling out his apology at Prime Minister’s Questions for “the offence it has caused up and down the country”, they’ve been crying again.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions

Yes, as Mr Johnson rightly pointed out, it is “infuriating” that there appears to be one rule for those who make the rules and one for the rest of us.

Trust? Humility? The integrity to lead a country with 145,000-plus deaths put down to Covid, futures cancelled, families devastated?

Whatever your views on coronavirus as a cause of death, its presence has affected us all.

Personally, I find it disgusting that joking about social distancing and getting around the rules should even be acceptable at the very heart of government. And I’m a former news editor; my humour is of the grimmest kind.

Politically, I’m fuming. This deception comes as thousands of UK citizens are left without power due to Storms Arwen and Barra, as senior Ministers – such as Sajid Javid – duck responsibility by cancelling media interviews with Plan B restrictions now hovering in the cold and miserable air.

For those to work and to work effectively, the Prime Minister needs our trust, but this has been battered yet further. How apposite that this Sunday marks two years since he won the 2019 election.

I knew nothing good would ever come of Boris Johnson in Downing Street. I was never fooled by his confidence tricks, his blowsy ‘man-of-the-people’ schtick.

This anniversary is not a time for celebration, but surely for the PM to consider his position. If not his own, then that of the Ministers and Downing Street insiders allegedly involved in what appears to have been a breach of those Covid laws.

And, yes, it is definitely worth saying that these are the very same Covid laws which prevented relatives of that poor dead six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes from entering his home and challenging his evil father and step-mother over reports he was being abused.

“Every minister, parliamentarian & staffer at the #downingstreetparty must resign NOW. No ifs no buts. The rule of law is a fundamental value, the glue that hold (SIC) us together as a nation. Once that is trashed by those in power the very essence of our democracy is at stake.”

Not a furious Opposition politician, but Dewsbury-born Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a former Conservative Party co-chairwoman, on social media yesterday morning.

She is absolutely spot-on. The rule of law applies to us all. Let us not waste time on the spurious argument that any alternative government would be worse, that these times would test any politician or that we must all pull together for the sake of the country.

First and foremost, we must be led by those who respect the law of the land, for which this Downing Street debacle shows blatant disregard.

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