This was probably the last thing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needed to see showing up in the headlines amid all of the other issues he has to deal with. A private video has been leaked to the press showing one of his top advisers holding a mock press conference. Former Press Secretary Allegra Stratton was practicing for a press conference that was planned for the following day with some MP’s from Johnson’s party playing the role of reporters. One of them asks her about rumors of a Christmas party held in Number 10 Downing Street that week. Stratton and the others in the room are heard laughing and joking about the party and how it was “not socially distanced.” The big problem is that the recording was made almost one year ago on December 20, 2020 and the party had allegedly taken place on December 18. That was the time when Johnson’s government had just issued stern lockdown orders banning indoor gatherings of more than two people, including for holiday parties. People hearing the leadership making jokes about violating the rules themselves have led to calls for retribution and the resignation of the Prime Minister. (Business Insider)
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces calls for his resignation after a leaked video showed his staff joking about hosting an illegal Christmas party while the country underwent strict COVID-19 restrictions last year.
According to reports from the British tabloid The Mirror, the party took place on December 18, 2020, and involved food and drinks, party games, and a “Secret Santa” gift exchange.
Ian Blackford, head of the Scottish National Party, said the “only right and moral choice left” for Johnson is to resign.
I’ll bet some of you thought the United States was the only place where government officials ran off to fancy soirees at wine bars and such while imposing all manner of restrictions on their constituents. Apparently not. This video report from ITV in Great Britain includes the leaked video and information about some of the players involved.
There’s really no way to paint any lipstick on this pig because the evidence seems rather damning. But the real question is whether or not Boris Johnson actually has any culpability in the matter. By all accounts, BoJo wasn’t in the room for the fake press conference, nor was he at the alleged party. It’s unclear if he even knew about it last year.
Did the party happen? As you can hear in the video, Stratton laughingly refers to a “fictional” Christmas party. But she continues on to say that the “party” was actually a business meeting with wine and cheese. For his part, Johnson hasn’t admitted the party took place, but he also hasn’t denied it either. All he and his staff have said is that the COVID rules “were followed at all times” inside Number 10. But this video suggests otherwise and sources who were aware of the party have told reporters that it definitely happened.
The head of the Scottish National Party (who are not aligned with Johnson and the Tories) stated that having BoJo resign would be “the only right and moral choice left.” He went on to say that if Johnson doesn’t resign, “he must be removed.” Of course, a political opponent would automatically say that, right? One might argue that if Johnson was unaware of the party and the video until recently and he wasn’t a participant there’s really no reason for him to resign. But remaining in denial about the event and not taking any action against those involved does make him look a bit more culpable. (Stratton already resigned yesterday, saying she would, “regret the remarks for the rest of my days.”)
This is kind of a tough one to make a call on. Johnson didn’t participate and at least so far he doesn’t sound like he’s planning on stepping down. But the people of the UK now know that when they were being locked down and forced to cancel Christmas last year, their leaders were laughing it up at a party in the home of the Prime Minister with fancy food and wine and no social distancing or masks. That’s got to be a bitter pill to swallow. The last question we should ask is whether or not Gavin Newsom was at the party. It sounds like it would be right up his alley.