No 10 Christmas Party: Birmingham MPs give their reactions

Birmingham MPs have commented on the allegations that a Christmas party was held at Downing Street last Christmas after Covid-19 restrictions were announced

Boris Johnson came under intense pressure at Prime Minister's Questions over Downing Street's Christmas party.Boris Johnson came under intense pressure at Prime Minister's Questions over Downing Street's Christmas party.
Boris Johnson came under intense pressure at Prime Minister's Questions over Downing Street's Christmas party.

Birmingham MPs have slammed the government saying they are “taking the public for fools” after footage emerged of Downing Street officials joking about a Christmas party that is alleged to have taken place during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown.

Leaked video footage obtained by ITV News shows Boris Johnson’s then-spokeswoman Allegra Stratton joking with other Number 10 aides at a mock press conference.

Downing Street staff are believed to have held a Christmas party on December 18 when strict lockdown restrictions preventing such gatherings were in place across England.

Ms Stratton has now resigned from her government role following the scandal.

Government figures show that dozens of people were convicted and fined for breaching coronavirus laws in West Midlands.

Ministry of Justice data shows in 2020, there were 70 court prosecutions in the area served by West Midlands Police for breaches of restrictions introduced at the beginning of the pandemic.

They resulted in 33 convictions, with most leading to fines.

Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham LadywoodShabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood
Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood

What have Birmingham MPs said about the party?

Edgbaston MP Preet Gill and Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood both said that the government has “taken the public for fools”.

In a statement issued to BirminghamWorld, Ms Mahmood, said: “489 people died of Covid on the day of the Downing Street Party.

“A party which the government covered up and then laughed about, taking the public for fools.

“The Prime Minister should be ashamed of his Downing Street flouting the rules whilst the rest of the country made deep personal sacrifices.

“I am calling on the government to hand over everything it knows about parties in Downing Street to the Metropolitan Police immediately.

“The people of Birmingham rightly expect leaders to follow rules set for everyone else - to lead by example. This is an issue of leadership, and the Prime Minister has failed, yet again.”

Edgbaston MP Preet Kaur GillEdgbaston MP Preet Kaur Gill
Edgbaston MP Preet Kaur Gill

Expressing her frustration, Ms Gill , said the Prime Minister has now ‘lost the moral authority’ to ask the public to do anything.

She said: “While people across Birmingham followed the rules, with many making huge personal sacrifices, the Prime Ministers staff laughed about covering up their Christmas party and took the public for fools.

“Now, we’re facing a new variant and there are reports the government could launch Plan B imminently.

“However, when his own staff can’t follow the rules, it’s clear that the Prime Minister has lost the moral authority to ask the British public to do anything.”

Erdington MP Jack Domey said the government ‘should be “ashamed of themselves”.

He told BirminghamWorld: “As the British public were staying away from friends and family to play their part in the national effort to defeat Covid, staff at Downing Street were flouting the rules.

“To make matters worse, not only did they break the rules they asked everyone else to abide by, but they also then used the £2.6 million Downing Street briefing room to rehearse lying to the British public about the Christmas party and were laughing about it.

“People in Birmingham, and across the country, made unthinkable sacrifices. Many didn’t see their loved ones, others spent Christmas alone, and some didn’t get to see family members in their dying moments. How must they now be feeling after hearing about this and seeing the reaction of staff in Downing Street?

“They should be ashamed of themselves for the way they have behaved, and the Metropolitan Police should investigate and take action against all those found to be in breach of lockdown restrictions.”

What has the Prime Minister said about the latest revelations about the ‘Christmas Party’?

Mr Johnson said during Prime Minister’s Questions today (8 December) that he has ordered an investigation into the claims that staff broke lockdown rules by holding the party.

He also insisted he had been repeatedly assured “there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”.

How many lockdown fines were issued in the West Midlands in 2020?

In total, £5,878 in fines were issued by the courts in West Midlands.

The largest number of fines – 13 – ranged from £50 to £100 while two convictions resulted in fines of between £1,000 and £2,500.

Almost all the convictions – 30 –were for breaches of emergency restrictions, while three were for offences related to failing to comply with screening.

Across England and Wales, of 4,365 prosecutions against people for breaching coronavirus laws, 3,535 (81%) resulted in convictions.

In total, £1.3 million in fines were issued.

Campaign groups including Fair Trials and Transform Justice sent a letter to the Government calling for the practice to be stopped.

Griff Ferris, legal and policy officer at Fair Trials, a criminal justice watchdog, said it was unjust for people to be criminalised and fined by an “opaque and unchecked process behind closed doors”.

He said: “The single justice procedure is rushed justice, on the cheap, and it is completely inappropriate for assessing charges under confusing lockdown laws.”

The MoJ said the decision to use the single justice procedure lay with the prosecutor.

A spokesperson said: “All defendants can request an open hearing and have their conviction voiced and reheard if necessary.”

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