Johnson and Sunak decline to comment on reports of 'boozy' party during lockdown last year

Both the PM and chancellor have been asked about reports of a party in Downing Street during lockdowns last year - neither gave a direct answer. Credit: PA

The prime minister and the chancellor have both declined to comment on reports that a "boozy" party was held by the Number 10 team in Downing Street last Christmas while London was in a Tier 3 lockdown.

When asked about claims in the Daily Mirror that Covid rules were broken on a number of occasions in the run up to Christmas last year Boris Johnson instead provided an answer about how people should behave this year.

After having his Covid booster jab, a journalist asked him: "There's obviously been a lot of rules about last year's parties, I just want to ask you, you've said no rules were broken, which is fine, why don't you just make this story go away and tell us what happened?"

"Because I've told you," the PM said, before going on to say people should not be cancelling planned Christmas events this year, despite the emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also dodged the question when asked by ITV News whether he attended the party.

In response to the allegations reported in The Mirror, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Covid rules have been followed at all times”.

The paper says the PM broke Covid rules on at least two occasions last year, once when reportedly delivering a speech to a packed room during England's second lockdown in November.

Mr Johnson's team is accused in the paper of breaching restrictions by holding their own festive party in Downing Street days before Christmas, while the rest of London was effectively locked down under Tier 3 restrictions.

In each case, the paper reported, there were 40 or 50 people crammed "cheek by jowl" into a medium-sized room.

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston says his sources have confirmed a party did happen, but whether official rules were broken (or indeed the spirit of the rules) remains unclear.

The prime minister declined refused three times to deny the party took place when being quizzed by Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner has written to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, asking him to look into the reports of a party.

She asked Mr Case, the UK's top civil servant, whether he is considering referring the PM to the police over the alleged party.

She also asked whether he would be "conducting an investigation into the use Government property for these gatherings?"

She added: "It is a breach of the ministerial code to request officials act in a way that is contrary to the law, will you be investigating the actions of the prime minister as a breach that compromised the integrity of officials that were present?"