Watch live as Labour asks urgent question in parliament about No10 party
Boris Johnson’s failure to answer reports he attended a lockdown-breaching party in Downing Street “speaks volumes”, Angela Rayner has said.
After her urgent question on Tuesday afternoon, the Labour deputy leader told the Commons that his absence was “incredibly disappointing, but not unsurprising”, adding that “he can run but he can’t hide”.
Her comments came after the prime minister expressed “full confidence” in Martin Reynolds, the civil servant who organised the alleged gathering in Downing Street on 20 May 2020.
No 10 has so far refused to comment on the new party claim. An email, sent by Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary Mr Reynolds – and leaked to ITV News yesterday – said 100 people were invited. It is understood that up 30 people attended the event. Multiple sources have said the PM was among them.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the prime minister to “stop lying” to the British public and to “finally come clean”.
Watch: PM held No10 party because he ‘felt sorry’ for staff, says Tory MP
Tory MP Michael Fabricant has taken an unusual position over reports that the prime minister attended an illegal gathering in Downing Street in May 2020.
Boris Johnson’s “failing” was “loyalty to his friends and loyalty to his staff”, Mr Fabricant said.
Listen to the MP for Lichfield’s full comments here:
Boris Johnson held No10 party because he ‘felt sorry’ for staff, says Tory MP
Rory Sullivan11 January 2022 12:59
Boris Johnson ‘running scared’ from parliament, say Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats have accused the prime minister of “running scared” from parliament, after he failed to turn up to answer an urgent question from Labour about an illegal gathering at Downing Street.
Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrats’ chief whip, said: “Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to hide the truth from the public and parliament any longer.
“He is running scared of today’s debate, while using Sue Gray’s inquiry as a smokescreen and hoping the issue will just go away.”
Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports:
Rory Sullivan11 January 2022 12:46
Protocol solution must be found before NI assembly election, Ireland’s EU commissioner says
Ireland’s EU commissioner has said the UK and Brussels must find a solution to the row over Brexit’s Northern Ireland protocol before the assembly elections later this year.
Mairead McGuinness, the EU financial services commissioner, said on Tuesday that she hopes the appointment of Liz Truss to the role of Brexit negotiator will bring some “pragmatism to the situation”.
She said: “They probably reflect the current view, if you like, as was held by her predecessor, but, on the other hand, I’m hoping that Liz Truss will also bring some pragmatism to the situation.”
The senior EU official said Northern Ireland needs a solution to the protocol impasse “before we get into campaign mode for the assembly elections”.
Matt Mathers11 January 2022 12:40
PM not in Commons to respond to Rayner
Angela Rayner has just asked the prime minister to make a statement about allegations a large event was held in the garden at Downing Street on 20 May 2020.
Boris Johnson, however, was not in the Commons to respond. “His absence speaks volumes,” Ms Rayner said.
Instead, it fell to Michael Ellis MP, the paymaster general, to speak for the government. He said it “would not be appropriate” to comment on an ongoing investigation.
With his words drowned out by the opposition benches, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told MPs to keep the noise down. “He’s got a tough job as it is. Don’t make it harder,” he said, referring to Mr Ellis.
Rory Sullivan11 January 2022 12:40
Watch live: Angela Rayner’s urgent question on Downing Street party
In a few minutes, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner will ask an urgent question about the Downing Street party.
Watch her appearance in the Commons here:
Labour will ask an urgent question in the House of Commons today (11 January) on the latest No10 party revelations.Prime Minister Boris Johnson is amongst those alleged to have attended a gathering in the garden of Downing Street on 20 May 2020, when the UK was in lockdown.At the time, rules stated that only two people could meet up outside, while the public were urged to stay indoors.It is alleged that around 40 members of staff attended the No10 party, which even encouraged people to bring their own “booze”.Sign up to our newsletters here.
Rory Sullivan11 January 2022 12:32
Rees-Mogg: I don’t expect junior staff to get dragged into party probe
The leader of the Commons has said he would not expect junior staff to be named in Sue Gray’s investigation into parties across Whitehall during Covid restrictions, but suggested more senior officials or politicians could be.
Speaking on his Moggcast podcast, Jacob Rees-Mogg said “you wouldn’t expect the name of extremely junior people to be put into public highlights”.
He said: “I don’t know what’s happened, I have no idea what will be concluded. But if there is somebody on work experience, who happened to be there for a week, it would seem unfair that that person should be named publicly.
“If, on the other hand, the Pope had popped in briefly, somebody of that seniority, you would expect that His Holiness would be named.”
Matt Mathers11 January 2022 12:20
No 10 expresses ‘full confidence’ in civil servant who arranged restriction-breaching party
Martin Reynolds, who invited more than 100 staff to a gathering during coronavirus restrictions, has the full confidence of the prime minister, Downing Street has said.
He “continues in his role”, it added.
My colleague Andy Gregory has more on this breaking story:
Rory Sullivan11 January 2022 12:19
Tory MP sparks outrage by appearing to defend ‘hard working’ partygoers
Former Labour MP and home secretary Jacqui Smith was among more than 1,000 people who replied to tweets by Tory MP Michael Fabricant, after he suggested the Downing Street “bring your own booze” party had not posed a health risk and appeared to defend those present.
Ms Smith, who worked for the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust during the first lockdown, tweeted: “Michael. Now you’re just making me angry.
“All of those things apply, for example, to uhbtrust where I was working at the time. They wouldn’t have dreamt of organising a byob party!”
Matt Mathers11 January 2022 11:55
Rayner: I hope PM will show up to answer my question
Angela Rayner has said she hopes Boris Johnson will turn up to the Commons to answer her urgent question.
“I really hope Boris Johnson takes this opportunity to answer questions,” she tweeted.
“We all sacrificed so much. We have a right to know. If you have a story to share about 20th May 2020 please get in touch.”
Matt Mathers11 January 2022 11:40
What kind of measures could the chancellor take to combat the cost-of-living crunch?
Away from partygate, pressure is growing on the government to act on the looming costs of living crisis.
Labour is using an opposition day debate later to put forward a motion calling on MPs to vote on an energy bill VAT cut.
This is said to be one of the measures being considered by the government. What else could be done to help families with their bills?
Our economics editor Anna Isaac editor takes a look:
Matt Mathers11 January 2022 11:22