MP shares how his mother died having spent her birthday alone - in same month as PM's alleged party
ITV News Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports on the mood in Westminster following allegations of another Downing Street Covid rule-breaking party
An SNP MP has recounted how his mother died shortly after marking her birthday over video call in lockdown, amid allegations that Boris Johnson held a birthday bash in the same month.
ITV News on Monday published claims that the prime minister celebrate a birthday party with up to 30 people indoors in June 2020.
At the time, social gatherings indoors were still forbidden under lockdown laws.
Following the release of ITV News' story, John Nicolson, Scottish National Party MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, recalled on Twitter: "In June of 2020 my Mum died shortly after her birthday which we ‘celebrated’ over FaceTime.
"I hadn’t been able to see her for many weeks. She was very lonely. But we agreed we should follow the rules.
"I can’t express how much I despise this cruel charlatan and his acolytes."
Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson recounted how she celebrated a birthday within the rules on the same day.
Ms Davidson, who has already described the prime minister as "unfit for office", tweeted: "By coincidence, my partner shares a birthday with the Prime Minister (19th June).
"We marked it in 2020 by inviting one other household to sit outside, socially distanced, in our garden. It didn't occur to us - literally couldn't conceive - that we would act outside the rules."
Reacting to ITV News' report, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the prime minister a "national distraction", saying, "he's got to go".
"This is yet more evidence that we've got a prime minister who believes the rules that he made don't apply to him," Sir Keir said.
"So we've got a prime minister and a government who spent their whole time mopping up sleaze and deceit.
"Meanwhile, millions of people are struggling to pay their bills. We can't afford to go on with this chaotic and rudderless government."
He continued: "The prime minister has already used up four different defences to these allegations, and all of them point to a prime minister who is not being honest."
Environment minister George Eustice said he thinks the allegations have "got out of hand."
"What really happened here is a small group of staff who've been working closely with the prime minister brought in a birthday cake at the end of the day.
"There was ten minutes there... sharing a piece of cake, I don't think that really constitutes a party in the way that some of the other more serious allegations that are being investigated maybe do."
The alleged party was held at 2pm, rather than the end of the day, and ITV News also understands that on that evening family friends were hosted upstairs in the prime minister’s residence in an apparent further breach of the rules.
Number 10 have denied this, claiming the prime minister only hosted a small number of family members outside - a denial Mr Eustice repeated, claiming a gathering of up to six people happened outdoors.
He said: "Later on, the prime minister had a small number of family members - which of course was allowed at the time, we had the rule of six outside - and he had a small number of family members with him."
Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said the ongoing allegations are "deeply disturbing".
Commenting before having read the full story, she said: "It doesn't just have an impact in relation to the prime minister or the conservative party or politics right now, it starts to damage our very faith in politics or politicians."
She continued: "At some point, the prime minister is going to have to take a long hard look at himself and say the office of the prime minister is far more important than an individual.
"And for the sake of our country, it is important that we preserve the dignity of the office of the prime minister, and it is an office that continues to be listened to in the UK and respected abroad."
Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, Luke Pollard, tweeted: "For my lockdown birthday in 2020 I had a wonderful day with my lovely boyfriend at home.
"No parties. No rules broken. If I could do it, why couldn’t the Prime Minister?"
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted: “No more excuses, no more delays, no more waiting for Sue Gray.
“For the sake of all the sacrifices the British people have made, for all the loved ones lost and mourned alone, he needs to go now.”
Alastair Campbell, former Downing Street spokesperson under Tony Blair's government, reacted: "For God’s sake Johnson just resign and stop relentless embarrassment for the country.
"Lockdown party now revealed in the Cabinet room. Ffs!
"I cannot remember the Cabinet room ever being used for anything but government work. ‘PM just there a few mins’ latest lie."
Downing Street did not deny there was a gathering but said: “A group of staff working in No 10 that day gathered briefly in the Cabinet Room after a meeting to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday. He was there for less than ten minutes.”
It denied claims about an event later that evening in the prime minister's flat: “This is totally untrue. In line with the rules at the time the Prime Minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries defended the prime minister, suggesting the gathering was not a party.
She tweeted: “So, when people in an office buy a cake in the middle of the afternoon for someone else they are working in the office with and stop for ten minutes to sing happy birthday and then go back to their desks, this is now called a party?”
ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston says he understands Sue Gray, the civil servant investigating multiple allegations of lockdown-breaking government parties, and her team were already aware of the June 19, 2020, birthday bash allegations, and that they will not further delay the publication of her inquiry.