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Downing Street Christmas Party: Timeline of how the farce has unfolded over the past 12 months

2 years ago

By The Guide Liverpool

Downing Street Christmas Party: Timeline of how the farce has unfolded over the past 12 months

The alleged Downing Street Christmas Party has certainly come back to haunt the Prime Minister and Number 10

Number 10 “there was no Downing Street Christmas party” in relation to a staff gathering in December 2020 at which drink was consumed, festive jumpers were reportedly worn and gifts were exchanged.

Here is a look at what happened and who said what about the event which took place during a coronavirus lockdown.

– December 16 2020

London is placed under Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, the highest level of curbs on freedoms at the time, with a ban on people from different households mixing indoors.

– December 18 2020

Staff in Downing Street are believed to have held a Christmas party, with reports that dozens of people attended the event, some wearing festive jumpers and exchanging Secret Santa presents.

– December 22 2020

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton is filmed at a mock press conference answering questions about a Downing Street Christmas party. The footage did not emerge for almost a year.

– December 1 2021

The Daily Mirror reveals the Christmas party took place, reporting that “officials knocked back glasses of wine during a Christmas quiz and a Secret Santa while the rest of the country was forced to stay at home”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said “all guidance was followed completely”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Does the Prime Minister really expect the country to believe that whilst people were banned from seeing their loved ones at Christmas this year it was fine for him and his friends to throw a boozy party in Downing Street?”

– December 2 2021

Business Minister George Freeman says: “I can absolutely assure you that No 10 staff followed the guidance,” adding: “I can’t get drawn into who was or wasn’t in the room and who was drinking which cocktail. You’ll understand I wasn’t there.”

– December 3 2021

Tory chairman Oliver Dowden says: “My focus has not been on having conversations about what may or may not have happened over a year ago in Downing Street. I have, however, been assured by what the Prime Minister has said, which is that the rules at all times were obeyed in Downing Street.”

– December 4 2021

The Metropolitan Police says it is considering the correspondence it had received in relation to the Christmas party and an earlier gathering in November 2020 which the Prime Minister reportedly attended.

– December 5 2021

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab says “if there was a formal party held, of course that is something that is clearly contrary to the guidance”, but insisted he did not know the truth of the reports based on “unsubstantiated claims all on the basis of anonymous sources”.

– December 6 2021

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse says: “I asked the question: ‘Were all the regulations complied with?’ I was reassured they were, I have to take that at face value. That’s absolutely what I’m sure is the case; it’s for others if they want to decide to take it further.”

– December 7 2021

Mr Johnson says: “I am satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.”

Footage of Ms Stratton’s December 2020 mock press briefing is obtained by ITV News, showing the Prime Minister’s then spokeswoman joking with colleagues about how to respond to questions about a Christmas Party, suggesting “it was a business meeting … and it was not socially distanced”.

Downing Street responds: “There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times.”

The Metropolitan Police says the footage “will form part of our considerations”.

– December 8 2021

Health Secretary Sajid Javid is pulled from a scheduled round of broadcast interviews.

Mr Johnson faces Prime Minister’s questions in the Commons.

– December 8 2021

Allegra Stratton resigns as Government spokeswoman as investigation is launched into No 10 party.

The Prime Minister orders an investigation into claims staff broke lockdown rules by holding a Christmas party last year and tells MPs he is “furious” about the footage apparently showing aides laughing about it.

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