'Defending the indefensible' – New Forest East MP Julian Lewis on Number 10 party row
“DEFENDING the indefensible seldom ends well" – that was New Forest East MP Julian Lewis's response to the leaked video showing senior Downing Street staff joking about a lockdown Christmas party.
The clip of a mock televised press briefing showed the prime minister's aides, including his then-press secretary Allegra Stratton – who has today (Wednesday) resigned from her role as government advisor – laughing about holding an illegal gathering at Number 10 last year.
Dr Lewis, a Conservative MP, slammed the "attitude" of those involved, telling the A&T: "Defending the indefensible seldom ends well.
"The attitude of some Downing Street staff, revealed by the leaked video, was utterly indefensible and the Prime Minister was right to condemn it.
"He must now ensure that anyone who defied the rules or broke the law faces serious consequences."
The A&T has approached New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne and Christchurch's Sir Chris Chope.
In Prime Minister's Questions today, Boris Johnson started by apologising for the video, but insisted there had been no party and no Covid rules were broken.
"I understand and share the anger at seeing Number 10 staff making light of lockdown measures," he said.
"I can understand how infuriating it must be that the people setting the rules have not been following the rules, because I was also furious to see that clip and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it has caused and for the impression it gives.
"I repeat, since these allegations emerged, that there was no party and no Covid rules were broken and that is what I have been repeatedly assured.
"But I have asked the cabinet secretary to establish all the facts and report back as soon as possible. And it goes without saying, if those rules were broken there will be disciplinary action for all of those involved."
As Mr Johnson repeatedly tried to refocus the conversation on the Omicron variant, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called Mr Johnson "desperate" and asked if he was "ashamed" of Downing Street's actions.
Sir Keir said millions of people now think the Prime Minster was "taking them for fools and they were lied to".
"They were right weren't they," he said. "Surely the Prime Minister isn't going to pretend the first he knew was last night... It's obvious what happened. Why doesn't he end this investigation right now by just admitting it?"