Boris Johnson has apologised for a damning video showing his staff laughing about a Christmas party in Downing Street last year – but again insisted “there was no party”.
The government is facing a furious backlash over reports of the party in December 2020, when millions of Brits stayed home and complied with coronavirus restrictions.
Johnson kicked off an eagerly-anticipated Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday – following no-shows from ministers on the morning media rounds – by saying he understood the anger over the video. But he again denied any party took place.
He said: “I can understand how infuriating it must be to think the people who have been setting the rules have not been setting the rules, because I was also furious to see that clip. And I apologise unreservedly for the offence it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression that it gives.
“But I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken. But I have asked the cabinet secretary to establish all the facts and report back as soon as possible and it goes without saying if those rules were broken then there will be disciplinary action.”
After Labour leader Keir Starmer spoke of Trisha Greenhalgh, whose mother died alone last Christmas, Johnson said it was a “great mistake to play politics with this issue”.