TV duo Ant and Dec last night mocked Boris Johnson‘s Number 10 Christmas party cover up as they brand him ‘the PM, for now’ during a live taping of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
The show’s crew cheered behind the camera as Declan Donnelly branded Mr Johnson ‘the PM, for now’ during the jibe at the Government’s handling of claims a party was held in Downing Street despite lockdown measures last year.
Ant McPartlin insisted the I’m a Celeb stars had not celebrated a change of camp leader with ‘cheese, wine and a secret Santa’.
They they took part in a fake press conference just days after the alleged December 18 event last year which has raised legal questions and denials of wrongdoing from No10.
The show’s crew cheered behind the camera as Dec branded Mr Johnson ‘the PM, for now’ during the jibe at the Government’s handling of claims a party was held in Downing Street despite lockdown measures last year
On last night’s episode of I’m a Celeb Dec said: ‘It is all change in camp now because yesterday the celebs chose a new leader via the gift of a secret vote.’
Ant added: ‘That means David’s reign is over but they weren’t celebrating. They didn’t have a party.
‘They categorically deny any suggestions that they had a party. And this fictional party definitely didn’t involve cheese and wine or a secret Santa.’
A dramatic Dec pointed at the camera as he said: ‘Evening Prime Minister, for now.’
The show’s crew erupted into laughter behind the scenes as the camera cut back to the campmates.
In last night’s leaked video Oldfield asks a question about ‘a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night’, to which Ms Stratton laughs and replies: ‘I went home.’
When he asks if the Prime Minister would condone such a party, Ms Stratton appears unsure how to respond and asks the room: ‘What’s the answer?’
Ant insisted the I’m a Celeb stars had not celebrated a change of camp leader with ‘cheese, wine and a secret Santa’
A third voice can be heard saying ‘it wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine’, before Ms Stratton added: ‘It was a business meeting … this fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.’
The footage was released after Boris Johnson had earlier refused to answer questions about the gathering, with questions raised over whether it breached social distancing rules in place at the time.
Asked about it on a visit to a London prison he would only say that all the rules had been followed at the time. Other ministers have refused to confirm if a party happened or not.
Sir Keir Starmer responded to the footage of Downing St aides joking about the party by saying that Mr Johnson needed to ‘come clean and apologise’.
The Labour leader said: ‘People across the country followed the rules even when that meant being separated from their families, locked down and – tragically for many – unable to say goodbye to their loved ones.
The clip, discovered by ITV news shows Allegra Stratton, then the PM’s press secretary, and Ed Oldfield, No10’s head of digital, rehearsing a question and answer session
In it Oldfield asks a question about ‘a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night’, to which Ms Stratton laughed and replied: ‘I went home.’
Mr Johnson has not confirmed or denied reports that members of his Downing Street team staged a party on December 18 last year when London was under Tier 3 restrictions. Pictured: Mr Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street on December 15, 2020 to attend weekly cabinet held at the nearby Foreign Office to ensure social distancing
The damning role play
Ed Oldfield (PM’s special adviser): ‘I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?’
Allegra Stratton: ‘I went home (laughs)… hold on, hold on, erm, err…’
Ed Oldfield: ‘Would the Prime Minister condone having a Christmas party?’
Allegra Stratton: ‘(laughs) What’s the answer?’
Ed Oldfield: ‘I don’t know!’
Downing Street Employee (unidentified): ‘It wasn’t a party… it was cheese and wine.’
Allegra Stratton: ‘Is cheese and wine alright? It was a business meeting.’
Downing Street Employee: ‘No! … was joking!’
Allegra Stratton: ‘(laughs) This is recorded. This fictional party was a business meeting… (laughs) and it was not socially distanced. Umm one more and then we’ll… one more. Anybody have any questions today?’
‘They had a right to expect that the government was doing the same.
‘To lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful. The Prime Minister now needs to come clean, and apologise.
‘It cannot be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.’
In response to the footage, a Downing Street spokesman said: ‘There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times.’
The leaked footage was shot in the media room at 9 Downing Street, which was refurbished at a cost of £2.6 million in preparation for the televised broadcasts before the plan was ditched.
Parties were banned under Covid restrictions at the time. Mr Johnson has not confirmed or denied reports that members of his Downing Street team staged a party on December 18 last year when London was under Tier 3 restrictions but he has insisted that no rules were broken.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab reignited the party row after he said it would have been a clear breach of Covid rules at the time if Mr Johnson’s staff held a party in Number 10 in the run-up to last Christmas.
The PM has insisted no rules were broken after the Times reported that staff wore festive jumpers and were asked to bring ‘secret Santa’ gifts.
They were reported to have brought alcohol and food to the event said to have been attended by dozens of colleagues
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman has insisted ‘there was not a party’ but the Prime Minister declined to characterise the event during a visit to a prison in London on Tuesday.
‘What I can tell you is that all the guidelines were observed, continue to be observed,’ he told reporters.
Asked about the party on December 18 on a visit to a London prison (pictured) yesterday he would only say that all the rules had been followed at the time. Other ministers have refused to confirm if a party happened or not.
The PM yesterday insisted no rules were broken, after the Times reported that staff wore festive jumpers and were asked to bring ‘secret Santa’ gifts. Pictured: The PM returns to Downing St on December 30 last year
Asked if he investigated personally, Mr Johnson said: ‘I am satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.’
The spokesman later added that ‘our position has not changed’ following Mr Johnson’s comments.
Last night, several families who lost loved ones over the Christmas period last year vented their fury at the latest developments in shambolic party saga, calling it a ‘betrayal’ of families who followed the rules.
Louisa Backway, whose father died of prostrate cancer after being unable to spend his last Christmas with his children and grandchildren, said she and her family are ‘furious’ after watching the video.
‘To know now that I sacrificed the last time that my dad could see his grandchildren, the last time that I could see my dad when he was well and himself, I can’t get that time back,’ she told ITV News.