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A senior Tory minister joked about the Christmas Party row enveloping Boris Johnson as he attended a posh think tank gathering.

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg laughed about the furore that has engulfed the Government as he addressed members of the centre-right Institute of Economic Affairs.

The event took place days before last night’s revelation of a bombshell video emerged of aides joking about their ‘illegal’ Christmas party.

No10 hit the panic button today with Health Secretary Sajid Javid cancelling interviews and Tory MPs warning that Mr Johnson must come clean at PMQs.

In footage of the IEA event, first revealed by the Guido Fawkes website, Mr Rees-Mogg says: ‘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 notice you are all at least two inches away from each other which is, as I understand it, what the regulations require.’

At the time Labour had already demanded a police inquiry into a party said to have taken place on December 18 last year, when indoor gatherings were banned in London. 

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg laughed about the furore that has engulfed the Government as he addressed members of the centre-right Institute of Economic Affairs.

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg laughed about the furore that has engulfed the Government as he addressed members of the centre-right Institute of Economic Affairs.

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg laughed about the furore that has engulfed the Government as he addressed members of the centre-right Institute of Economic Affairs.

The event took place days before last night's revelation of a bombshell video emerged of aides joking about their 'illegal' Christmas party.

The event took place days before last night's revelation of a bombshell video emerged of aides joking about their 'illegal' Christmas party.

The event took place days before last night’s revelation of a bombshell video emerged of aides joking about their ‘illegal’ Christmas party.

In footage of the IEA event, first revealed by the Guido Fawkes website, Mr Rees-Mogg says: '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.'

In footage of the IEA event, first revealed by the Guido Fawkes website, Mr Rees-Mogg says: '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.'

In footage of the IEA event, first revealed by the Guido Fawkes website, Mr Rees-Mogg says: ‘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.’

The Health Secretary was brutally empty-chaired by broadcasters today after pulling out of appearances following the emergence of the footage showing the PM’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton giggling about the lockdown-busting gathering last year.

As bereaved families branded the revelations a ‘bullet to the chest’, Scotland Yard is set to probe the exchanges from a rehearsal for a media briefing, leaked to ITV News.

Downing Street appears to have bunkered down with just hours to work out what line Mr Johnson should take at the regular grilling in the Commons. Attorney General Suella Braverman was seen going into the building this morning, although it is not clear whether her visit is related. Mr Javid has also entered, ignoring questions about why he ducked interviews.

There are grim signs that Conservative MPs are turning on the premier, with demands for him to provide an ‘explanation’ and even warnings that misleading parliament on what happened will be a ‘resigning matter’. Baroness Warsi, a former Cabinet minister turned critic, said ‘every minister, parliamentarian and staffer’ at the alleged party ‘must resign now’.

BBC Breakfast took the extraordinary step of empty-chairing Mr Javid this morning as vaccines minister Maggie Throup also pulled out of her planned round of regional television interviews. On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, host Susanna Reid swiped that the government was ‘gaslighting’ by pretending there is not any need to answer questions.

The footage of Ms Stratton was filmed on December 22 last year – four days after the alleged ‘boozy’ party and when London was under strict Tier 3 coronavirus curbs. The revelation follows a week of tortured denials from No 10 that there was a ‘party’ – even though dozens of staff allegedly exchanged ‘secret Santa’ gifts and drank past midnight at an event said to have included party games.

It came as new plans for Britons to work from home and for offices to be closed are being drawn up by the Government to curb a surge in Omicron variant case numbers over the festive period – but Tory MPs admitted the ‘indefensible’ and ‘catastrophic’ video could mean the public will resist or ignore more restrictions because of a lack of ‘moral authority’ in No 10.

Some backbenchers have even suggested that Boris Johnson’s could be forced to resign unless he ‘holds his hands up’ because of the video, which calls into question his insistence that all the rules had been followed at the time.

One said of Mr Johnson’s leadership: ‘I’m tired of it. He has to go. Clean sweep. It’s unsustainable’. Another said: ‘It confirms my suspicion of the sheer arrogance and hypocrisy of those orchestrating lockdown measures.’

Former minister Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, demanded an apology.

‘I am fuming! My constituents have every right to be angry,’ she told Kent Online.

‘Their memories of lost loved ones are traumatised knowing that they died alone, first and last Christmases passed by, and many spent what is usually a special day by themselves.

‘I am not even going to begin to justify or defend a party in Downing Street. We all deserve a fulsome explanation and apology and swiftly.’

Conservative Sir Roger Gale said today that the situation bore ‘all the hallmarks of another ‘Barnard Castle’ moment’ – a reference to the Prime Minister’s former aide driving 260 miles during strict lockdown conditions last year.

He said: ‘This is like something out of The Thick Of It. If you wrote it, people wouldn’t believe it. Boris Johnson has always been his own man and done his own thing in his own way. I think he has a certain amount of explaining to do. This is no laughing matter. I want PM to come to the dispatch box and say there either was a party or wasn’t. There has to be an explanation by lunchtime today’.

Even Ant and Dec got in on the act last night, mocking Boris Johnson over the Downing Street Christmas party on I’m a Celebrity 2021 and saying: ‘Evening Prime Minister… for now.’

Police are yet to launch a criminal investigation – but will be reviewing the footage before a decision is taken. It is understood that a senior officer looking at the matter will now consider the contents of the video in the coming days.

‘We are aware of footage obtained by ITV News relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at a Government building in December 2020’, a Met spokesman said. ‘It is our policy not to routinely investigate retrospective breaches of the Covid-19 regulations, however the footage will form part of our considerations’.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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