Jess Phillips convicts Boris Johnson of “Christmas Party” scandal

The leaked footage has roused anger, some contrasting it with the dignity of the Queen sitting alone at Prince Phillip’s funeral due to COVID restrictions. (Right: Allegra Stratton, ITV. Left, Queen Elizabeth II, Getty Images)

A Labor MP said a stark image of the Queen sitting alone in dignified silence at Prince Phillip’s funeral underscores the contempt with which the Boris Johnson administration has treated the British public.

Birmingham Yardley Wood MP Jess Phillips said angry voters wrote to her after ITV News revealed leaked footage showing Number 10 employees laughing at an alleged Christmas party on Downing Street last year during the lockdown.

Philips shared the Queen’s picture Tuesday night when reports of the footage surfaced. “The central question is how seriously our leaders take their work,” she said.

“She took it dead serious. The Queen wanted to show that she wasn’t expecting any special treatment, and I’m sure the public would have given her the same leeway, given the circumstances.

“Boris Johnson doesn’t really get it. The people at Yardley are pretty pissed off and text me to say that.”

jess phil queen

(Twitter / @ JessPhillips)

The Queen attended a public funeral for Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, in April of that year. One of the most poignant moments of the ceremony was the image of her sitting alone before the service, eagerly watching the restrictions on social distancing.

Many saw the scenes of sitting alone in a chapel when she said goodbye to her husband as the embodiment of loneliness, sadness, and isolation from lockdown.

Claims that Downing Street employees were throwing a party were first revealed by the Daily Mirror last week. They have been consistently denied or avoided by Number 10, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister for the past week, with Boris Johnson specifically saying he was certain that all COVID guidelines were being followed.

At the time, Tier 3 rules specifically prohibited business lunches and Christmas parties, which are “a primarily social activity and not otherwise permitted”.

Anger over the reports heightened Tuesday night after a leaked video revealed by ITV showed then Prime Minister’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton answered journalists’ questions played at the Downing Street press conference.

Ed Oldfield, the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser, asked Stratton if she “saw reports on Twitter that there was a Christmas party on Downing Street on Friday night” and if she recognized them.

“I went home,” Stratton replied with a laugh.

allegra

Then-Prime Minister’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton laughed as she held a mock press conference during the lockdown last December and practiced denying a Christmas party that had reportedly taken place a few days earlier. (ITV)

Oldfield later asks, “Would the Prime Minister forgive a Christmas party?” to which Stratton continues: “It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine”.

The video continues in a similar fashion, with laughter from those in attendance, and ends with Stratton saying, “This is taped. This fictional party was a business meeting … and it wasn’t socially distant.”

Downing Street continues to insist that all of the rules in number 10 were followed last night after the video appeared.

However, senior government ministers took the unusual step of withdrawing key radio interviews Wednesday morning after leaked footage leaked government aides joking about a Christmas party last year.

It is unclear whether they were instructed to withdraw from the interviews or they refused; Several of them appeared to be publicly defending the prime minister last week on allegations that the alleged party had violated coronavirus restrictions.

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On Monday, Dominic Cummings, the estranged former special adviser to the prime minister, warned the prime minister not to lie about the party.

“It is unwise for # 10 to lie about this, but PM set the course for lying from Covid in the spring when he decided to rewrite history, deny the herd immunity plan, etc.” he said on Monday.

“NB there were also some lobby hacks at parties in apartment 10, so I tried to bury this story …”.

Watch: Boris Johnson refuses to repeat official dementia via staff party at # 10

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