Keir Starmer calls for Government apology over alleged Downing Street Christmas party 'booze up'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the Government to admit to holding a Christmas party during last year's London lockdown and apologise to the public.

The BBC has reported "several dozen" people attended a No 10 Christmas party on December 18 last year, with a source stating that party games were played, food and drink was served, and the event went on past midnight. It followed the story originally being broken by the Daily Mirror.

The event is said to have taken place two days after London went into Tier 3 lockdown restrictions on December 16, when it was made illegal to mix indoors with anyone outside your household or support bubble.

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People were allowed to gather if it was reasonably necessary for work purposes, but that would not have included holding a party.

Keir Starmer is calling for the Government to apologise over an alleged Christmas party held during lockdown last December.

Mr Johnson was not at the party and has said no Covid rules were broken, but No 10 has refused to explain how party-goers complied.

The Daily Mirror also reported the Prime Minister gave a speech at a packed 'leaving do' for a senior aide last November when the country was in the midst of the second lockdown.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post today following a visit to East Yorkshire, Sir Keir said: "It's pretty obvious to me that a big party did take place. The Government is not really denying it anymore.

"It's pretending it's in accordance with the rules. You can't have a big party and be in accordance with the rules - the two things can't both be true.

"It's yet another example, added to a very long list, of one rule for them and another rule for everybody else.

"It's important because lots of people gave up a huge amount last Christmas across the country - not seeing loved ones, not being able to go to ceremonies that they would have liked to have gone to, losing loved ones in some cases.

"While the country was locked down, Downing Street was having a booze up and a knees up in breach of the rules.

"The other reason it's important is that the Government is now saying to people what they should do this Christmas.

"Government has to lead by example, the Government can't dictate to the rest of the country what it must do, and then ignore the rules itself. It's very important for the Government to do what they almost never do - to be honest, accept they had this party and apologise for it."

Earlier today, Business Minister George Freeman said "I can absolutely assure you" that Downing Street staff adhered to Covid rules last Christmas, despite claims that they held parties which broke social distancing restrictions.

Mr Freeman said he could not get “drawn into who was or wasn’t in the room and who was drinking which cocktail” because he was not in Government at the time, but stressed that No 10 was confident the guidance had been followed.

'Clarity needed on Covid rules'

Sir Keir also criticised the mixed messaging coming from Government over current Covid guidance.

"We are saying to the Government, put out clear guidance because everybody wants to watching the news today will have seen there is a long list of a contradictory things coming out of Government. Some say have parties, some say go on Zoom, some say kiss people, but only people you know.

"This sort of confusion is getting pretty absurd. And I think most organisations and most businesses would just say 'For Heaven's sake, Prime Minister, just get a grip and get some clarity around this and then we can all go into this together."

Despite Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey advising people to avoid “snogging under the mistletoe” this Christmas, Mr Freeman insisted earlier today that the Government is not attempting to “tell everyone who they should kiss or where they should go”.