Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Boris Johnson says he takes responsibility for ‘everything that happens in government’ following Christmas party criticism

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he takes responsibility “for everything that happens in government”, following a day of fierce criticism from allies and adversaries over a Christmas party at Downing Street last year.

Fury has been directed at Mr Johnson since news broke that government employees held a party last December, while the UK was in a strict lockdown.

Last night, a video was released showing then-Press Secretary Allegra Stratton joking with colleagues about a “cheese and wine” party, and Ms Stratton announced her resignation as a government spokeswoman earlier today.

In a news conference this evening, the prime minister paid tribute to his former press secretary, calling her a “fine colleague” who “has achieved a great deal” and saying he was “very, very sorry to lose her”.

Asked whether he was concerned people would be less likely to follow guidelines as a result of the news, Mr Johnson said: “I want to repeat the fundamental point, that the British public […] can see the vital importance of the information we’re giving and the need to take it to heart.

“It’s never been more conspicuous in the way the public has responded to the vaccine roll-out.”

When questioned about other parties in the weeks preceding the one references in the video with Ms Stratton, including one he may have attended, he said: “As far as I’m aware, to the best of my knowledge, the rules were followed.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier today, Mr Johnson announced an investigation into the December 18 party would be launched by the cabinet secretary and offered an apology for the video.

Fury over party continues

This evening’s Downing Street news conference came after allies including Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross and his predecessor Ruth Davidson voiced their anger over the party.

Mr Ross said it was the prime minister who should consider his position if he is found to have misled parliament.

He said: “If the prime minister knew about this party last December, knew about this party last week, and was still denying it, then that is the most serious allegation.”

Saying he was not involved with the party or invited to it, he added: “There is absolutely no way you can mislead parliament and think you could get off with that.

“No one should continue in their post if they mislead parliament in that way.”

Mr Ross came into conflict with the prime minister a second time this evening, saying on Twitter that he would vote against the introduction of vaccine passports in England in his role as an MP.

The video with Ms Stratton was released the night before Prime Minister’s Questions, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said an apology offered by Mr Johnson today “raises more questions than answers”, and asked whether he had the “moral authority” to ask people to make further sacrifices to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Going to ‘Plan B’

Mr Johnson held the news conference to announce people in England should start working from home and wearing facemasks in a wider variety of places, in a bid to stem the increasing spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The guidance to work from home is similar to that announced by Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, when the first minister asked those who were working from home at the beginning of the pandemic to do so again.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday everyone who was working from home at the start of the pandemic should be doing it again.

Mr Johnson also announced the NHS Covid pass would be needed to enter nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather – a year to the day since Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a vaccine against the virus outside a clinical trial.

The move to the UK Government’s ‘Plan B’ means much of the guidance already in place in Scotland will be extended to England.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s now the proportionate and responsible thing to move to Plan B in England while working closely with the devolved administrations.”

He said the Omicron variant now has a doubling time in the UK of between two and three days, and the spread was increasing in a manner similar to that seen in South Africa where the variant was first identified.

Statistics released by the Scottish Government today showed 11 deaths across the country in the last 24 hours, while 582 people were being treated in hospital and 41 of them were in intensive care.

More than 3,000 new cases of Covid were identified in Scotland, including 382 cases of the Omicron variant.