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Boris Johnson news – live: Allegra Stratton resigns over No 10 party video as half of voters say PM should go

Allegra Stratton resigns over No 10 party video

Allegra Stratton has resigned as a government adviser and offered her “profound apologies” after footage emerged of her joking about a Downing Street Christmas party while the country was under Covid restrictions.

In the video obtained by ITV News, Ms Stratton joked that a supposed party at No 10 was “was not socially distanced” and suggested passing it off as “a business meeting”.

The former journalist, who was serving as a Cop26 spokesperson, said she would regret the remarks “for the rest of my days”, adding: “To all of you who lost loved ones, who endured intolerable loneliness and who struggled with your businesses, I’m truly sorry.”

It comes as more than half of voters believe Boris Johnson should resign amid claims parties were hosted at No 10 last year. Worryingly for the prime minister, one in three of those who voted Conservative at the last general election in 2019 said he should stand down.

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Tom Peck: There appears to be no evidence whatsoever that Boris Johnson ‘shares your anger’

Taking aim at Boris Johnson’s assertion at PMQs that he shares the public’s anger over the footage of No 10 staff appearing to make light of party allegations, The Independent’s political sketch writer Tom Peck argues:

“It is not clear why he shares our anger, because our anger is based on the very clear and correct assumption that the party happened, and that his staff have been caught practising how they might lie their way out of it.

“Whereas he is still prepared to say, in broad daylight, in the House of Commons, in front of television cameras, that the party that dozens of people went to, that happened in his own house, didn’t actually happen. So he doesn’t share our anger at all.”

You can read his column in full here:

The prime minister has been ‘repeatedly assured’ that ‘no Covid rules were broken’. So why apologise?

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Scottish Tory leader says he won’t resign in protest over PM’s handling of allegations

Douglas Ross has indicated he will not resign as leader of the Scottish Tories in protest over Boris Johnson’s handling of allegations of a party in Downing Street last December.

Mr Ross resigned as a Scotland Office minister last year after Dominic Cummings broke coronavirus restrictions – but told Sky News his current post is different.

He said: “I don't believe so, it's totally independent from the UK government, from the prime minister, from the UK party – it's Conservative members here in Scotland who decide who leads the party here in Scotland.”

But he said that his party has “undoubtedly” been damaged by the issue, adding that what angered him more than the political ramifications were “the families that had to sacrifice so much at the same time 12 months ago people thought it was okay to have a jolly in Downing Street”.

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‘I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days,’ says Stratton

Allegra Stratton has spoken to reporters outside her home, announcing her resignation after she acknowledged she had “seemed to make light of” Covid rules.

She added: “I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days, and I offer my profound apologies to all of you at home for them.

Here is the full story:

Boris Johnson’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton has quit from her government role after being filmed laughing about a Downing Street Christmas party.

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BREAKING: Allegra Stratton resigns after leaked video, reports say

Allegra Stratton has resigned from her role within government over the leaked video obtained by ITV News showing her joke that a supposed No 10 Christmas party was “was not socially distanced”.

The former journalist had been serving as the PM’s Cop26 spokeswoman.

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Peer complains to IOPC over lack of police probe into party claims

Green Party peer Jenny Jones has complained to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over a lack of an investigation into reports of parties at Downing Street.

Baroness Jones said in her complaint letter that “due to the extensive police presence at 10 Downing Street ... I believe there is a case to answer for the police aiding and abetting a criminal offence, or deliberately failing to enforce the law in favour of government politicians and their staff”.

She claimed that, “if there was an unlawful gathering taking place at Number 10 Downing Street, then the police must have known and were highly likely to have played an active part in organising or facilitating the illegal gathering”.

She also said there was a “potential cover-up” or “conflict of interest” if the reports were not investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

And she called for an investigation into “whether this is an instance of a broader culture of the police officers excusing or facilitating unlawful activity by government ministers and their staff”.

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More than half of voters think Boris Johnson should resign over No 10 party claims - poll

More than half of voters believe Boris Johnson should resign as prime minister over allegations of a lockdown-breaking Christmas party at 10 Downing Street, according to a snap poll conducted as the PM announced an inquiry into the claims.

And in worrying results for the prime minister, one in three of those who voted Conservative at the last general election in 2019 said he should stand down.

The full poll results are disclosed in the below story by our political editor, Andrew Woodcock:

More than three-quarters say prime minister should apologise

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Man ‘crushed’ after father died alone in hospital on day of alleged Christmas party

A man whose father died alone in hospital after being admitted on the day of the alleged Christmas party at Downing Street has said the week’s revelations have left him “crushed”.

Rob Kelleher said his father Bob, 88, was admitted to hospital on December 18 last year and subsequently died on January 10, without seeing a member of his family in person again.

The 65-year-old told the PA news agency: “It was the date that triggered all of this because in our mind that is the very last day anybody’s seen my dad.

“My mam is sitting at home not watching the telly or even having the radio on because she just can’t deal with this.”

He said the stories emerging this week of a Christmas party at Downing Street had left him “crushed”, adding: “I just feel so lost and angry.”

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No 10 incident risks public giving up trust in health advice, says Scottish Tory leader

The Scottish Tory leader also voiced concerns the Downing Street incident could affect compliance with Covid health measures – a concern that has been repeatedly aired by Conservatives, health bosses and political opponents.

Mr Ross told STV News: “I’m annoyed about what has happened but the biggest threat here is the public give up trust in what they are hearing from governments across the United Kingdom ... and that is crucial that we continue the trust, so they follow the public health advice.”

He added: “The prime minister has to answer very serious questions and the cabinet secretary has to conclude his investigation as quickly as possible.

“Ultimately, if there have been breaches that have occurred, people have to be held accountable.”

He continued: “Clearly something has happened in Downing Street and the messaging since then has not been clear, has not solved all the issues around it.”

Mr Ross said he was “not going to get into what could happen to the prime minister at the end of this”.

Instead, he said he wanted “answers quickly” to restore public trust.

“I’ve got to say this last week has not helped that public trust,” he added.

“The public for 20 months, they have followed what the government said, and they have looked at what has happened in Downing Street this time last year and are wondering ‘why bother?’.

“I accept their anger, I agree with their anger and frustration.

“I want to see what this inquiry comes up with, I don’t want to prejudge it, but I have serious questions that I think need to be answered.”

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Boris Johnson should quit if he misled parliament about party, Scots Tory leader says

Boris Johnson should resign if he misled parliament about an illegal Christmas party at Downing Street, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.

Speaking on Wednesday Douglas Ross said that there was “clearly” a party “of some kind”.

He told reporters: “If he knew about the party this time last year or at any point up until he was asked about it in the House of Commons and still said he knew nothing about it and I wasn’t a party, that’s a serious allegations – and I don’t support anyone deliberately misleading parliament, so I’m not going to protect anyone for that.”

Boris Johnson should resign if he misled parliament about an illegal Christmas party at Downing Street, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.

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Peers question legality of migrant boat ‘pushback’ tactics

The legality of Priti Patel’s plans to turn back migrant boats at sea has been called into question by peers, including senior lawyers and a former judge.

The Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee has written to the home secretary, expressing “concerns” over the legal basis for the so-called pushbacks.

The letter adds to “growing concern both in and outside parliament” over the policy proposed in a bid to curb Channel crossings, peers said.

The committee’s Liberal Democrat chairwoman, Baroness Hamwee, a former solicitor, said: “Statements, including from the Home Secretary, are that there is a legal basis for the policy of so-called ‘turnarounds’. We question that.

“The so-called ‘turnaround’ policy would force fragile small boats crossing the Channel to turn back. It is hard to imagine a situation in which those in them would not be in increased danger or where captains would not be obliged to render assistance.

“Instead, the Home Secretary has set a policy of forcing them to turn around. Even if there is a domestic legal basis, if it were actually implemented, it would almost certainly contravene the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Policing borders should be done in full accordance with the principles of national and international law, and we look forward to full engagement with our questions.”

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