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Downing Street has denied Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie broke lockdown rules to have a close friend stay over during the Christmas period as coronavirus infections surged.
According to reports, the political campaigner and government adviser Nimco Ali spent time with the Johnsons in No 10 over the festive break.
Just days before the planned relaxation of Covid rules for Christmas in 2020, the prime minister imposed Tier 4 restrictions across London and vast swathes of south-east England, forcing millions to cancel their plans.
In response to increasing infection rates and a new strain of the virus, the mixing of households indoors was banned, socialising outside was restricted to one other person, and non-essential businesses were forced to close their doors.
Certain exemptions were in place for those in bubbles who needed to travel for education or childcare purposes, while those living on their own were able to pair up with another household.
Raising questions for the prime minister, however, the US magazine Harper’s reported that Ms Ali, who was given an official advisory role at the Home Office in December 2020, “spent Christmas with the couple at No 10 despite pandemic restrictions on holiday gatherings”.
But a No 10 spokesperson told The Independent: “The prime minister and Mrs Johnson have followed coronavirus rules at all times. It is totally untrue to suggest otherwise.”
A separate spokesperson for Ms Johnson’s issued a near identical statement, saying: “The PM and Mrs Johnson have followed coronavirus rules at all times. It is totally untrue to suggest otherwise.”
Downing Street has not specifically denied Ms Ali spent the holiday with the Johnsons and their young son, though it is not clear whether the campaigner fell into one of the exemptions from restrictions.
Responding to the reports on social media, Ms Ali said she had received racist abuse since “untrue story” first appeared, adding: “No I did not break any rules but you knew that and just wanted a reason to tweet hate”.