Labour: PM is “unfit to lead this country” after Downing Street quiz allegations

Elliot Chappell
© Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street

Angela Rayner has declared that Boris Johnson is a “man unfit to lead this country” after a picture emerged that appears to capture the Prime Minister hosting a Covid rule-breaking Christmas quiz in Downing Street last year.

Commenting after The Mirror reported on Saturday night that Johnson has been accused of personally breaking public health restrictions, the deputy Labour leader said he “really believes it’s one rule for him, another for everyone else”.

“While the rules said that people shouldn’t have Christmas parties at work and Britons across the country were doing the right thing, Boris Johnson was instead happy to preside over a culture of disregard for the rules at the heart of government,” she said.

“Despite repeated denials of parties in No. 10, it now transpires that there were numerous parties, gatherings and the Prime Minister even took part in a festive quiz.”

The latest allegations against Johnson come after a week in which the Prime Minister has been accused of dishonesty following reports that between 40 and 50 people attended social events in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas.

Johnson, during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, said that no Covid rules were broken but did not deny that the party had taken place on December 18th. Keir Starmer told parliament that “both of those things can’t be true”.

The Prime Minister was accused of lying after footage emerged of senior Downing Street staffers joking about the alleged party, in which Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton joked that it “was not socially distanced”.

The most recent allegations, released by The Mirror overnight, involved Downing Street staff grouping around computers as they conducted a quiz on December 15th, just three days before the party that Stratton was seen joking about.

Nadhim Zahawi said today the Cabinet Secretary will “report rapidly” on alleged Christmas parties at Downing Street, saying that the pictures reported in showed that the quiz was a “virtual Zoom call, not anything else”.

Johnson can be seen in the image, released by the paper on Saturday, sitting beneath a portrait of Margaret Thatcher as he read out questions between two members of his team, one wearing a Christmas hat and the other draped in tinsel.

On the decision to hold a quiz in Downing Street, a source told The Mirror: “Everybody decided it would be more fun. It would be difficult to take part in such a large virtual quiz from home. No work was discussed, it wasn’t a business event. Nobody was working that evening, it was purely a social event.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “This shameful scandal tells you everything you need to know about Boris Johnson and his corrupt government. [Johnson] has lost all credibility – at this time of crisis we need serious leadership and he is not fit to lead this country.”

London was in Tier 2 restrictions at the time, following the lockdown in November, meaning any social mixing between households was prohibited. Keir Starmer told The Andrew Marr Show that Johnson appears to have broken the law.

Starmer said, today, that the recent reports have damaged Johnson’s authority to the extent that he cannot “deliver the leadership that this country needs”, and argued that he is “the worst possible leader at the worst possible time”.

The Labour leader called on Conservative MPs earlier this week to removed Johnson from his position. Asked whether the Prime Minister should resign, Starmer argued that it is not in his gift to make Johnson step down.

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