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Watch: 'Disgusted': Tearful response of bereaved woman who lost mum to COVID over No.10 'Xmas party'
The host of ITV News at Ten has lambasted the government over a video of Boris Johnson’s senior aides joking about a Downing Street Christmas party just days after an alleged rule-breaking festive gathering.
The prime minister’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, were filmed joking about a “fictional” party in December 2020 in a video from a mock press conference obtained by ITV News.
Reporting on the video, which was obtained by ITV journalist Paul Brand, Tom Bradby summed up the mood of many people as he opened the news segment by saying: "They literally look as if they are laughing at us. You. Me. All of us."
On Tuesday, Downing Street again insisted there was no Christmas party and coronavirus rules had been followed at all times.
But the footage threatens to cause significant problems for the prime minister as he looks to potentially bring in new restrictions in the coming days to deal with. the growing threat posed by the omicron variant.
Johnson has also faced accusations that he has lied about whether or not a party took place.
Bradby continued: "You will all doubt remember the run-up to last Christmas all too well. London in Tier 3. Indoor gatherings banned. The whole country about to go into lockdown. Agonised conversations in every family about what we could and what we could not do over Christmas. But the vast majority wanted to do the right thing knowing it was important. After all, we were told, lives were at stake.
"And that is why Downing Street allegedly having a party explicitly banned with secret Santa presents, games and the rest in the middle of all this has caused such a stir. But even the days of evasions and obfuscations about it were no preparation for the video tonight.
"Recorded at the time it shows the new press secretary being put through her paces by Downing Street staff in preparation for the panned televise pars briefings. And they all have a bit of a laugh about a party a few days before. 'Whoops. That would be a difficult question. Social distancing. Ha ha. Not so much.'
"The very next day, the prime minister in effect cancelled Christmas preventing millions of family and friends meeting up. And it is a safe bet no one in the countries laughing about it tonight."
During PMQs on Wednesday, the PM said he has ordered an investigation into the claims and told MPs he was “furious” about the footage.
He apologised “unreservedly” for the offence caused by the footage but insisted he had been repeatedly assured “there was no party and that no COVID rules were broken”.
Johnson said he had asked cabinet secretary Simon Case “to establish all the facts and to 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”.
How did the media react?
The video has caused incandescence in many quarters, with the media coverage particularly damning.
The Daily Mail, often a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party, branded the video a "sick joke". The Guardian accused the Boris Johnson. of lying following his repeated denials that a party had taken place, and the Metro simply referred to those involved as a bunch of "clowns.
Unusually, The Daily Telegraph did not feature the story on its frontpage.
It wasn't the main story on The Times either, which instead reported comments from Nicola Sturgeon about working from home.
Later editions of The Times replaced that with a row over whether the government should introduce vaccine passports.
The i newspaper said it was "beginning to look a lot like Christmas", referring to the video and the fears that there could be 80,000 cases of COVID a day by Christmas.
The Sun also decided against putting the story on its front page, while the Mirror carried reports of another lockdown-busting party at the Department for Education.
And it even crossed over to prime-time TV, with I’m A Celebrity co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly poking fun at Boris Johnson.
The presenting duo jokingly referenced the allegations during Tuesday’s episode of the ITV series, saying that the show’s contestants “categorically deny” any suggestion they had a party in the Welsh castle.
While introducing the next segment on I’m A Celebrity, Donnelly said: “It is all changing in camp now because yesterday the celebs chose a new leader via the gift of a secret vote.”
McPartlin continued: “And that means David’s reign is over. But they weren’t celebrating. They categorically deny any suggestions that they had a party.
“And this fictional party definitely didn’t involve cheese and wine, or a secret Santa.”
Donnelly then looked directly into the camera and said: “Evening prime minister… for now.”
Watch: 'Disgusted' - Tearful response of bereaved woman who lost mum to COVID over No.10 'Xmas party'