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, the party took place on December 18, 2020, and involved food and drinks, party games, and a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s most senior MP, said the “only right and moral choice left” for Johnson is to resign.
“Trust in leadership is a matter of life and death. Downing Street willfully broke the rules and mocked the sacrifices we have all made, shattering the public’s trust,” said Blackford in parliament.
“The prime minister is responsible for losing the trust of the people. He can no longer lead on the most pressing issue facing these islands,” he said. If Johnson does not resign, Blackford said, “he must be removed.”
Johnson has apologized for the video, which was shot in December 2020. It depicts a mock press conference in which his former press secretary Allegra Stratton joked about the supposed Christmas party.
A leaked video of the press conference exercise was obtained just four days after several sources told media outlets that there had been a party in the prime minister’s Downing Street office that broke COVID-19 rules at the time.
“I’ve just seen reports that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognize those reports?” Ed Oldfield, an adviser to the prime minister, can be heard asking in the video. “I went home,” Stratton said with a laugh. “Would the prime minister condone having a Christmas party?” Oldfield then asked.
“What’s the answer?” Stratton joked. At the time of the party and mock press conference, the UK was under Tier 3 restrictions, which limited indoor gatherings to groups of two and prohibited office parties.
Stratton resigned saying she would “regret the remarks for the rest of my days.” After initially denying a party occurred, Johnson announced on Wednesday during a speech at the House of Commons that he would be opening an investigation into the event. “If rules have been broken, there will be disciplinary action for all those involved,” he said.