Boris Johnson has apologised after footage emerged of senior Number 10 officials joking and laughing about a Downing Street Christmas party last year during a time of strict COVID restrictions.
Facing MPs for the first time since the video emerged, the prime minister said he was “furious” and has asked the Cabinet Secretary to investigate.
Live updates from PMQs as Johnson faces questions over ‘party’ video
“I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures,” Mr Johnson told Commons at the beginning of PMQs.
“I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules because I was also furious to see that clip.”
The PM said he apologised “unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression that it gives”.
But he maintained “I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no COVID rules were broken”.
Mr Johnson said the Cabinet Secretary would “report back as soon as possible” and “it goes without saying that if those rules were broken then there will be disciplinary action for all those involved”.
The footage, obtained by ITV News, is reported to be a rehearsal for a TV media briefing.
Senior Number 10 aides are heard jokingly referring to a “business meeting” and a “cheese and wine” event.
The footage is said to be from 22 December last year – four days after an alleged Christmas party took place in Number 10.
It has sparked a fierce backlash against the PM, with opposition MPs calling for police to investigate and some saying Mr Johnson should consider his position.
Conservative MPs have also been voicing their frustration and anger.
The PM reiterates that “there was no party”, adding that “I was told no COVID rules were broken”.
‘Christmas parties’, denials and COVID rules timeline: What happened in Downing Street last year?