Boris Johnson ‘broke law’ by attending party during lockdown, says Starmer

Labour leader says it’s clear ‘industrial-scale partying’ was going on in Downing Street

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer being interviewed by Sophie Raworth during the BBC1 current affairs programme. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer being interviewed by Sophie Raworth during the BBC1 current affairs programme. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

 

Labour leader Keir Starmer has said Boris Johnson broke the law by attending a lockdown-ignoring party in Downing Street, as a sixth Conservative MP called on the prime minister to resign. Mr Starmer said Mr Johnson had lied about the Downing Street parties but it was clear what was going on.

“I think he broke the law,” Mr Starmer told the BBC. “He’s as good as admitted he broke the law. Downing Street has now apologised to the queen for some of the parties that have gone on. I think it’s pretty clear what’s going on. There was industrial scale partying going on, not much of it is being denied. The facts speak for themselves. The prime minister broke the law and then he lied about it.

“When I first challenged the prime minister about it, he said ‘I’ve been assured there were no parties.’ Then the Allegra Stratton video came out, I challenged him again and he said ‘I’m furious. I’ve just found out about these parties. I’m furious. Then it comes out last week he was at one of the parties and his third defence is ‘I was there but I didn’t realise it was a party.’ ”

Mr Starmer’s comments came as former children’s minister, Tim Loughton, became the sixth Conservative MP to call for Mr Johnson’s resignation. He joins fellow Brexiteers Andrew Bridgen and William Wragg, alongside Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, and Roger Gale and Caroline Nokes.

“I have regretfully come to the conclusion that Boris Johnson’s position is now untenable, that his resignation is the only way to bring this whole unfortunate episode to an end and I am working with colleagues to impress that view on No 10,” Mr Loughton said.

‘Warned in advance’

Downing Street on Sunday rejected an assertion by Sunday Times columnist Dominic Lawson that Mr Johnson was warned in advance that the party he attended in May 2020 was against the rules and should be cancelled. Downing Street said the prime minister stood by his claim in the House of Commons last week that he believed the gathering, to which staff were invited to “bring your own booze”, was a work event.

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said the prime minister had a sincere sense of remorse over the parties in Downing Street during coronavirus restrictions. But he said it was important to wait for senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the gatherings.

“I don’t diminish for a second that the kind of events we have seen were totally wrong. I was angered by them, my constituents were angered by them, the whole country was angered by them, and it is absolutely right, as the prime minister has said, we will get to the bottom of them and I’ll tell you that when he responds to the House of Commons, as he has committed to doing so, he will make sure that we will address the kind of culture that has allowed that to happen in the first place,” he told Sky News.