PM accused of ‘disregard’ for Covid rules after quiz photo emerges

The image shows Boris Johnson sitting in front of a laptop in the No 10 library on a screen with one staffer draped in tinsel.

PM accused of ‘disregard’ for Covid rules after quiz photo emerges No10 Downing St
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his office in Number 10 on December 23, 2020.

Boris Johnson has faced accusations of presiding over a “culture of disregard for the rules” after a picture emerged of him taking part in a festive quiz with colleagues in Downing Street.

The image shows the Prime Minister sitting in front of a laptop in the Number 10 library on a screen.

A member of staff appeared to be draped in tinsel, while another wear a Christmas hat.

The Sunday Mirror, which revealed the image, reported the event happened on December 15, 2020.

The paper said staff were invited to a virtual quiz but many chose to take part from Number 10 instead.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister “briefly” took part “virtually” in the quiz.

This was at a time when London was under Tier 2 Covid-19 restrictions, including a ban on social gatherings between households indoors.

The Christmas quiz is reported to have taken place just three days before an alleged rule-breaking party at Downing Street currently being investigated by the UK’s top civil servant.

Three separate gatherings in government buildings are being investigated by the cabinet secretary Simon Case.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “After weeks of barefaced lies Boris Johnson has nowhere left to hide.

“He has lost all credibility – at this time of crisis we need serious leadership and he is not fit to lead this country.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “While the rules said that people shouldn’t have Christmas parties at work and Britons across the country were doing the right thing, Boris Johnson was instead happy to preside over a culture of disregard for the rules at the heart of Government.”

Allegra Stratton in the mock televised press briefing.ITV
Allegra Stratton in the mock televised press briefing.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “This was a virtual quiz.

“Downing Street staff were often required to be in the office to work on the pandemic response so those who were in the office for work may have attended virtually from their desks.

“The Prime Minister briefly took part virtually in a quiz to thank staff for their hard work throughout the year.”

In footage obtained by ITV News, the Prime Minister’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, were filmed joking about a “fictional” Downing Street party in December 2020.

In parliament on Wednesday, Johnson said he was “sickened and furious” by the video of senior aides laughing about a Christmas “cheese and wine” night.

The development follows the resignation of Allegra Stratton, who appears in the leaked video making jokes about the “fictitious” party.

Nicola Sturgeon has called for Boris Johnson to resign amidst controversy over the party claims.

Johnson has stated there was no party and that he had been assured that no coronavirus restrictions had been broken.

Cabinet secretary Mr Case has been instructed to investigate the December 18 party, an event on November 27, and another at the education department on December 10.