Ministers grilled on Downing Street ‘party’ in Sky News montage
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ITV News anchor Tom Bradby has erupted in anger after a video emerged from Downing Street showing the Prime Minister’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton laughing with colleagues about a No.10 event at which there was “definitely no social distancing”. The leaked footage appears to be from a rehearsal for Downing Street’s planned televised news briefings which never went ahead. Ms Stratton can be heard jokingly referring to there being “cheese and wine” after being asked a mock question about a Christmas Party by pressroom staff.
Mr Bradby told ITV News at 10: “They literally look as if they are laughing at us, you, me all of us.
“Remember last Christmas, London was in tier three or ignore gatherings banned, lives we were told could be at stake. The whole country about to go into lockdown, Christmas all but cancelled.
“Meanwhile, Downing Street staff were rehearsing that new press secretary for the plan televised press conferences, one asked a bit of a jokey question about a party allegedly held four nights.
He added: “One thing is for sure not many people are going to be laughing tonight after days of denials and obfuscations about the party. This is an absolutely car crash for the government’s reputation.”
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In footage obtained by ITV News, Ms Stratton is seen answering questions at a mock press conference on December 22 about a party the previous Friday – the date of the alleged Covid rule-breaking gathering which is said to have been attended by dozens of colleagues while social mixing indoors was banned in London under Tier 3 restrictions.
Mr Oldfield can be heard asking Ms Stratton: “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 replied “I went home” before appearing to consider what the correct answer should be.
During the rehearsal, filmed as part of a subsequently-abandoned plan for Ms Stratton to lead televised press briefings, one aide is heard saying: “It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine.”
Staff joke about Downing Street Christmas party during lockdown
“Is cheese and wine all right? It was a business meeting,” Ms Stratton replied, to laughter in the room.
Ms Stratton then noted “this is recorded”, adding: “This fictional party was a business meeting … and it was not socially distanced.”
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