A video has emerged of Jacob Rees-Mogg mocking the ongoing Downing Street Christmas Party scandal.
The Leader of the House of Commons was the guest speaker at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Christmas Party on Monday night.
In a video unearthed by the political blog Guido Fawkes, the cabinet minister decided to use the ongoing scandal to get some laughs.
He told the crowded room: ‘I see we’re all here obeying regulations, aren’t we?
‘I mean, this party is not going to be investigated by the police in a year’s time.
‘You are all very carefully socially distanced… we have moved, I am pleased to tell you, from the metric back to the imperial system: I know you are all at least two inches away from each other which is, as I understand it, what the regulations require during the social distancing period.’
Downing Street has repeatedly denied that a Christmas bash took place while London was under Tier 3 restrictions and has said coronavirus rules had been followed at all times.
But footage obtained by ITV News shows the prime minister’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton answering questions at a mock press conference on December 22 about a party the previous Friday – the date of one of the alleged rule-breaking gatherings.
In the footage, key officials, including Ms Stratton, laugh about a ‘fictional’ party not being socially distanced and ‘cheese and wine’ ‘not being alright’ – before she warns: ‘this is recorded’.
Mr Johnson is facing calls to resign over the alleged breach of restrictions.
At PMQs, he claimed to be ‘furious’ about the video and has asked a Cabinet secretary to investigate what happened
But this evening Mr Johnson again claimed no Covid rules were broken.
That came after Ms Stratton had resigned, issuing a tearful statement during which she apologised for ‘making light of the rules’.
She said: ‘My remarks seemed to make light of the rules, rules that people were doing everything to obey.
‘That was never my intention. I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days and offer my profound apologies to all of you for them.’
She added: ‘I understand the anger and frustration that people feel.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the PM of taking the public ‘for fools’ and has urged him to ‘come clean and apologise’.
‘The Prime Minister has been caught red-handed. Why doesn’t he end the investigation by admitting it?’
Meanwhile, The Department for Education (DfE) has admitted it held a social gathering of staff last December in contravention to coronavirus social distancing rules, adding in a statement that ‘it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time’.
The Metropolitan Police has said it will not investigate the alleged parties due to a ‘lack of evidence’.
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