Boris Johnson looks 'as though he was' breaking coronavirus laws with Christmas quiz, says Sir Keir Starmer

The Prime Minister cannot “deliver the leadership this country needs, Sir Keir Starmer has said, after Boris Johnson was pictured appearing to lead a Christmas quiz in Downing Street last year.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House, London
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House, London

Mr Johnson has been accused of leading “a culture of disregard for the rules”, after the Daily Mirror published a picture of him taking part in the online game alongside colleagues - including one draped in pink tinsel.

The Sunday Mirror reported that the event happened on December 15, three days before an alleged Christmas party was held by staff at Number 10.

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The newspaper says that groups of people were gathered across the Downing Street building, taking part in the quiz - which was hosted on Zoom - together.

Sir Keir said Mr Johnson “looks as though he was” in breach of Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, which were in place across London at the time.

He told the BBC: “He must have known that other groups were in other rooms in his own building.

“This is very important because he has damaged his authority, he is now so weak, his party is so divided – he can’t deliver the leadership this country needs.

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“We’ve got a very important vote coming up next week and he can’t even discharge the basic functions of Government. He is the worst possible leader at the worst possible time.”

The Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure on Christmas parties amid mounting reports of festive celebrations across Whitehall last year while the country was under varying degrees of lockdown restrictions.

The turbulence has come at the same time as new restrictions are being introduced to combat the Omicron variant, leading some to question whether the apparent breaches will have an impact on public compliance.

However, a Cabinet Minister has accused Labour of taking the “wrong” stance on the Prime Minister’s appearance at the online quiz.

Education Secretary Nadhom Zahawi said: “I think (Sir) Keir Starmer needs to make his mind up.

“One minute he says he does not want to play politics, the next he is, I think, being political and wrong on this.”

He added: “I think in many ways the hype of the past two weeks around parties will quite rightly be investigated by the Cabinet Secretary.

“My email box is full of people thinking that he was sort of at parties with guests and all sorts of things happening.

“Actually, they can now make their mind up when they see this picture of the Prime Minister on a virtual screen, on a Zoom call thanking his team, who are in the building because they have to respond to a national emergency.”