Sajid Javid says he REFUSED to do TV interviews defending the ‘illegal’ No10 Christmas party after bombshell video and suggests probe into gathering on December 18 could also examine claim of party in PM’s flat in November
- Sajid Javid refused to do TV interviews after the video of No10 aides emerged
- The Health Secretary said he dodged broadcast round because video ‘upset me’
- Number 10 official Allegra Stratton quit over the video yesterday afternoon
- Boris Johnson has ordered probe into whether No10 Christmas party took place
- New poll found two thirds of Brits believe PM should quit if party did happen
Sajid Javid today said he refused to do TV interviews defending the Government over the Number 10 Christmas party row after a bombshell video of aides giggling surfaced.
The Health Secretary said he was ‘upset’ by the video which showed Downing Street advisers joking about holding a party during the coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Javid had been due to conduct a broadcast round on Wednesday morning but he opted to dodge the interviews.
He said this morning that he had agreed with Number 10 it was ‘best to take some time to respond to the video in the way that the Prime Minister has now’ by announcing a formal probe into whether a party took place.
Boris Johnson yesterday announced he has asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to establish the facts surrounding an alleged event on December 18 and promised people will be punished if they are found to have broken lockdown rules.
Mr Javid said Mr Case will also be able to look into allegations of other parties taking place as he insisted the Cabinet Secretary is ‘free to look at whatever dates he wants to consider’.
The Health Secretary’s remarks raise the prospect of Mr Case potentially looking into claims made by Dominic Cummings that a party was held in the PM’s flat on November 13.
A new poll published by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found almost two thirds of Brits believe Mr Johnson should resign if it is confirmed the December 18 party took place.
Some 63 per cent of people said the PM should quit if a party is confirmed to have been held in Number 10 at a time when coronavirus restrictions prohibited such an event from taking place while 24 per cent said he should not quit.
Sajid Javid today said he refused to do TV interviews defending the Government over the Number 10 Christmas party row after a bombshell video of aides giggling surfaced
Boris Johnson yesterday announced he has asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to establish the facts surrounding the alleged event
A new poll published by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found almost two thirds of Brits believe Mr Johnson should resign if it is confirmed the party took place
Dominic Cummings alleges that the PM held a gathering at his grace-and-favour flat on November 13 last year, the day the adviser was ousted from Downing Street. Mr Cummings also suggested there had been ‘other flat parties’.
The Prime Minister reportedly gave a speech at a packed Number 10 leaving do for a ‘senior aide’. Sources claimed that ’40 or 50 people’ were present.
Then-education secretary Gavin Williamson hosted a Department for Education party for ‘up to 24 people’ on December 10. The gathering, which included food and drink, took place in the department’s canteen. The department has admitted the event happened.
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. London had been placed into Tier 3 restrictions on December 16 – the highest level of curbs on freedoms at the time which banned people from different households mixing indoors. Downing Street has said Boris Johnson did not attend the event.
Sources told the BBC that a separate Christmas quiz event was held for Number 10 staff at some point in December. Everyone was apparently invited to attend and to form teams. One source said some people attended virtually via Zoom but others did attend in person and sat in groups of six. Downing Street has insisted the quiz was ‘virtual’.
Mr Johnson yesterday apologised and a senior aide quit over footage which showed Number 10 officials joking about a party during the coronavirus lockdown.
The PM has ordered an investigation into claims staff broke lockdown rules by holding a Christmas party last year and told MPs he was ‘furious’ about the video apparently showing aides laughing about it.
Allegra Stratton, who was previously the PM’s spokeswoman, resigned after the leaked clip emerged, offering ‘profound apologies’ and saying she would ‘regret those remarks for the rest of my days’.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly insisted that rules were followed in Downing Street since the claims first emerged about the December 18, 2020 party.
However, at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons he said he based that position on assurances from junior staff.
He said he had asked Mr 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’.
Mr Javid had been due to take part in TV interviews yesterday morning but withdrew from the broadcast round after the leaked video emerged.
Asked why no Government minister appeared on Wednesday morning, the Cabinet minister replied: ‘I didn’t appear because I saw that video – it upset me, it upset a lot of people I think across the country, it upset the Prime Minister.’
Asked whether he ‘refused’ to go onto the airwaves following the emergence of the footage, Mr Javid told Sky News: ‘No, it wasn’t about refusing – I spoke to my colleagues in Number 10 and we actually agreed it is best to take some time to respond to the video in the way that the Prime Minister has now, by ordering an investigation by the Cabinet Secretary (Simon Case).
‘And so I think the idea was to give some space to react but I’m pleased the Prime Minister has asked for an investigation, and I can see also why so many people would have been upset by that video.’
Pressed on whether he thought an event did take place last December in Downing Street, he added: ‘The truth is, I don’t know.
‘I have received assurances, like the Prime Minister has, that all rules were followed throughout the pandemic at all times.’
Mr Javid later told LBC Radio that if Covid rules were followed in Downing Street last December, then no party would have been able to take place.
Allegra Stratton, who was previously the PM’s spokeswoman, resigned after the leaked clip emerged
Told that he had previously said there had been no Christmas party in Number 10, Mr Javid said: ‘And I would still tell you that I have received assurances that there were no rules that were broken, in terms of Covid rules, at any time in Downing Street.
‘That means a party could not take place. If the rules were not broken, then a party could not take place.
‘But having this investigation, having the Cabinet Secretary look into this, is the right response because this is the individual who can talk to anyone, can get the data, the evidence together and establish the facts.’
Mr Javid said he did not know about another alleged party in December, as reported by The Times, but added: ‘I do know that Simon Case is not just looking at a particular date. He is free to look at whatever dates he wants to consider.’
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