Sir Keir Starmer today suggested Boris Johnson lacks the 'moral authority' to lead the country as he compared the Downing Street Christmas party to the Queen sitting alone at Prince Philip's funeral.
The Labour leader said the monarch had shown 'leadership' and 'sacrifice' by adhering to social distancing rules at the funeral in April this year.
He asked Mr Johnson at PMQs if he believes it is still possible for him 'to ask the British people to stick to the rules' in the wake of the party row which has rocked his premiership.
Mr Johnson hit back as he claimed Sir Keir had 'played politics throughout this pandemic'.
But Sir Keir labelled the PM's response 'desperate and even his own side can see it'.
Sir Keir Starmer today suggested Boris Johnson lacks the 'moral authority' to lead the country as he compared the Downing Street Christmas party to the Queen sitting alone at Prince Philip's funeral
The Labour leader said that the monarch had shown 'leadership' and 'sacrifice' by adhering to social distancing rules at the funeral in April this year
Mr Johnson announced at the start of PMQs that he has ordered an investigation into claims Downing Street staff broke lockdown rules by holding a Christmas party last year.
The PM said he was 'furious' about video footage apparently showing aides joking about the gathering.
He apologised 'unreservedly' for the offence caused by the footage of his then-spokeswoman Allegra Stratton at a mock press conference.
But he insisted he had been repeatedly assured 'there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken'.
Mr Johnson said he has asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case 'to establish all the facts and to report back as soon as possible – and it goes without saying that if those rules were broken then there will be disciplinary action for all those involved'.
Sir Keir grilled Mr Johnson on the row at PMQs as he said the premier 'must understand the damage he has done to his credibility in enforcing the rules now and in the future'.
The Labour leader said: ‘This virus isn’t defeated. We are going to face other tests where the British people may be asked by their leaders to make further sacrifices for the greater good.
‘Her Majesty the Queen sat alone when she marked the passing of the man she had been married to for 73 years.
‘Leadership. Sacrifice. That is what gives leaders the moral authority to lead.
‘Does the Prime Minister think he has the moral authority to lead and to ask the British people to stick to the rules?’
Mr Johnson replied: ‘Not only that but the Labour Party and the Labour leader in particular have played politics throughout this pandemic.’
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle was then forced to intervene as Labour MPs heckled the PM.
After calm was restored, Mr Johnson continued: ‘If I may say so, throughout this pandemic the leader of the opposition in particular has done nothing but play politics, to try to muddy the waters, to confuse the public and to cause needless confusion about the guidance.
‘The public have not been so confused and they have not been fooled and they have got on with implementing the guidance and they have got on in particular with showing great commitment to the health of this country by going forward to get vaccinated.'
Sir Keir responded: ‘That is so desperate and even his own side can see it.'