Grovelling Boris apologises for No10 Xmas party video & orders probe as Keir tells him ‘Ant and Dec are ahead of you’


BORIS Johnson today issued a grovelling apology over bombshell footage of senior No10 staff joking about holding a lockdown-busting Christmas party.

The PM ordered an investigation by civil service chief, Sir Simon Case, into exactly what happened at the alleged boozy bash in No10 last December, and promised to hand over any info over to the cops if asked.

Boris Johnson apologised as he appeared for the first time since the footage emerged
Allegra Stratton was filmed being asked about an alleged Christmas Party in No10

But Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer joked “Ant and Dec are ahead of you” in a reference to their I’m A Celebrity jibe at the beginning of last night’s show.

In an attempt to diffuse the growing unease from his backbenchers, he told MPs he “shared the anger” of millions of people upon seeing that video and stressed “I was also furious to see that clip.”

The PM, flanked by Rishi Sunak and Brandon Lewis, said: “I apologise unreservedly for the offence it has caused up and down the country, and the impression that it gives.”

But he insisted again he has been told that there was “no party” and he thinks all the rules WERE followed.

Anyone found to have broken any rules will face displinary action, he said.

“There will be consequences for those involved if those rules were broken,” he stressed.

Sir Keir Starmer said people felt like they were being “taken for fools” and had “been lied to”.

“The situation is as clear as day,” he said.

“They knew it was a party, they knew it was against the rules. It’s obvious it happened.

“Ant and Dec are ahead of the Prime Minister on this one.

“He’s been caught red handed – why doesn’t he just admit it?”

He also told the story of a woman who “followed the rules” and didn’t visit her mum last December when she was in hospital, shortly before she died.

And he brought up the example of the Queen who was forced to sit alone at her husband’s funeral, saying the PM no longer has the “moral authority to lead”.

The PM slapped down accusations from Labour and the Lib Dems as “playing politics” and vowed to get on with the job of PM.

Ministers went to ground this morning – pulling out of all broadcast interviews.

The Queen sits alone in St George's Chapel as her husband is laid to rest

The Queen sits alone in St George’s Chapel as her husband is laid to rest
Sir Keir Starmer lashed out and said he was taking the public for fools

And furious Tory MPs broke ranks to demand an apology and explanation.

Top MP Jake Berry said he was “amazed that Allegra Stratton is still in a job”, adding, “I don’t like to see people sneering at my constituents.”

Downing St still insists that “there was no Christmas Party” on December 18 last year when Tier 3 restrictions in London forbid indoor gatherings.

The Government is sticking to its denials despite video leaked to ITV showing the PM’s top aides laughing about enjoying “cheese and wine”.

At a mock press conference in the No9 briefing room Mr Johnson’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton practised taking questions about the party.


Ms Stratton – now the PM’s COP26 spokeswoman – joked that the party “was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”

Senior Tory MPs earlier this morning turned the screw on Downing Street to come clean about the alleged festive bash.

Robert Halfon said: “I certainly think that those who were doing the video should apologise for the insensitivity of it when people were suffering and struggling all through that time.”

Tobias Ellwood called for the country’s top civil servant to investigate the video.

Veteran Tory Sir Roger Gale said the episode had “all the hallmark of another Barnard Castle moment”, referencing Dominic Cummings’ alleged breach.

Others say the alleged breach should rule out any lockdown restrictions this Christmas.

Sajid Javid pulled out of broadcast interviews this morning. BBC Breakfast showed his empty seat

Ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock took Mr Johnson at his word, telling GMB: “What I know is that the Prime Minister said that no rules were broken. And nobody’s suggesting that he was at this party.”

His successor Sajid Javid was supposed to the usual round of breakfast interviews this morning but pulled out amid the chaos. BBC Breakfast even empty-chaired the Health Secretary.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss ignored questions on the way to a speech she was making in central London.

One government source said the entire debacle was an “absolute s***show”.


In footage of the fake presser, obtained by ITV, one of the PM’s advisers asked: “I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?”

Ms Stratton joked: “I went home!” before she paused to consider how to respond.

The aide added: “Would the prime minister condone having a Christmas party?”

Ms Stratton, who was due to lead daily political press briefings in the £2.5million press room before the plan was ditched earlier this year, laughed and replied: “what’s the answer?”

Another No10 staffer popped up to say: “It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine.”

Ms Stratton added: “Is cheese and wine alright? It was a business meeting…”

She went on to warn her colleagues the mock briefing “is recorded” and “this fictional party was a business meeting, and it was not socially distanced”.

The video was taken on December 22, just days after the alleged gathering was said to have taken place in No10.

Ministers and the Government have repeatedly denied that a bash took place in the heart of Government when London was under Tier 3 restrictions – meaning gatherings were banned.

In-person business meetings were allowed but only when strictly necessary, and had limits on numbers.

Just days later Tier 4 was introduced, cancelling Christmas for millions.

The PM was grilled again on the bash last night, saying: “I am satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.”

Downing Street said in response to the leaked footage last night: “There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times.”

A Met Police spokesman said: “We are aware of footage obtained by ITV News relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at a Government building in December 2020.

“It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid 19 regulations, however the footage will form part of our considerations.”

Sir Keir Starmer blasted the relevations as “shameful” and called on the PM to come clean and say sorry now.

The Labour boss said: “People across the country followed the rules even when that meant being separated from their families, locked down and – tragically for many – unable to say goodbye to their loved ones.

“They had a right to expect that the government was doing the same. To lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful.

“The Prime Minister now needs to come clean, and apologise. It cannot be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.”

Nearly two in three Brits think the rules were broken, and 63 per cent say Boris should apologise, Savanta ComRes polling showed.


And former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was accused of hosting a party for staff in the department – just days earlier.

A bash with drinks and canapès was held on December 10 2020 for staff to thank them for their work over the pandemic, as officials frantically tried to keep schools open and prepare for mass testing in the new year.

But one source played down the reports saying: “I’ve never seen a canapé in the DfE.”

Tier 2 rules in place in London at the time stated no mixing with other households except for work purposes.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “On 10th December 2020 a gathering of colleagues who were already present at the office – and who had worked together throughout the pandemic, as they couldn’t work from home – took place in the DfE office building in London at a time when the city was subject to tier 2 restrictions.

“The gathering was used to thank those staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

“Drinks and snacks were brought by those attending and no outside guests or supporting staff were invited or present.

“While this was work-related, looking back we accept it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time.” 

HOAR has approached Mr Williamson for comment.

The footage showed a mock press conference taking place in the No9 briefing room