Boris Johnson hosted a rule-breaking festive bash in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year, according to The Mirror. The rest of the country was labouring under the ‘definitely-not-a-lockdown’ tier structure, cancelling plans with family and preparing to stay at home, many people stuck on their own for the holiday period, while the Prime Minister and members of his top team allegedly held a gathering just days before Christmas. It is claimed 40 to 50 people were crammed into the party “cheek by jowl” in what one source described as a “Covid nightmare”. No 10 has rejected this account.
The story comes as the UK prepares for this Christmas, now less than a month away, with the Omicron variant spreading across the country. Eight more cases have been confirmed in England – one each in Haringey, Sutton, Camden and Westminster, two in Barnet, one in Liverpool, and one in north Norfolk. Instead of urging caution, Johnson has decided to contradict a senior health official. UK Health Security Agency chief executive Jenny Harries advised that people should cut back on socialising. The Prime Minister, however, has urged people not to cancel their Christmas plans – which makes senses because, based on the reports from his behaviour last year, no matter what the rules are he won’t be cancelling his.
Sajid Javid struck a slightly different tone to his boss this morning, telling LBC listeners to have “a bit of common sense” as they make plans. But the Health Secretary added: “There’s no need to change our plans unless they’ve been affected by the new rules we’ve put in place.” Christmas plans could well feature in Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, as well as last year’s festive celebrations. Stay tuned for our review later. On LabourList this morning, the TUC’s Alice Arkwright writes about how we can make flexible working the default and Shelly Asquith gives an update on the who/why/where of workers striking across the country right now. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.