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Watch: DUP’s Jim Shannon breaks down in tears during Downing Street lockdown party question

DUP MP Jim Shannon has broken down in tears when speaking about the death of his mother-in-law during an Urgent Question about a Downing Street party.

MPs gathered in the House of Commons for the special sitting after more allegations emerged about a drinks party in No 10 during the first Covid lockdown.

The Strangford MP was overcome with emotion when he took to his feet to ask Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis whether there would be a “full and complete disclosure” of the police investigation into the party.

In an emotional contribution in the Commons, Mr Shannon told the chamber: "In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to Covid just last week. Including my mother-in-law, who died alone."

Mr Shannon struggled to go on with his question before sitting back down.

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Responding, Mr Ellis said: "I'm very sorry for his loss. He's asking me if the results of the investigation will be made public, and they will be."

In a statement, Mr Shannon said that there needs to be “full disclosure” into ongoing Covid-19 investigations.

"In Northern Ireland last week we reached the poignant milestone of 3,000 deaths during this pandemic. The experience of my family is only one of those many cases, and even today other MPs in the House also shared their own stories of loss. Our situation is no different to 150,00 others across the UK who experienced this loss,” said the Strangford MP.

“The pain of losing a loved one was multiplied in many cases because regulations prevented family from being with a loved one in their final hours or a funeral taking place in the normal way.

“People need to be assured there will be full and complete disclosure to the ongoing investigations. No-one can be above the rules."

Mr Shannon received support from parties across the political divide, including SDLP leader Colum Eastwood who said: “Well done, Jim for struggling through that question.”

Alliance Party MLA Kellie Armstrong tweeted her condolences: “My thoughts are with Jim Shannon and his family. I am so sorry Jim.

“Losing a loved one is devastating. Losing a loved one when isolation rules meant they passed alone, is horrific. #Covid robbed so many from the opportunity to be with a person in their last days.”

UUP leader Doug Beattie also showed his support on Twitter and called on the prime minister to step down.

He tweeted: “My thoughts are with @JimShannonMP as he clearly still struggles with his families loss… as so many others who took the advise [sic], abided by the rules and waited as their loved ones died afraid and alone. Boris Johnson should step down as PM of, or once, this is proven.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced calls to resign over the allegations, while his whereabouts were also scrutinised after he opted against responding to Labour’s urgent Commons question on a gathering in the Downing Street garden on May 20 2020 himself, instead being represented by the Paymaster General.

Mr Ellis confirmed the May 20 “bring your own booze” event, to which more than 100 employees were invited, according to a leaked email, was being investigated.

But he noted the publication of the findings of the Whitehall party inquiry, led by senior official Sue Gray, could be delayed due to the increasing number of allegations to be considered.

Meanwhile, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle defended his decision to grant the Urgent Question, after a Conservative MP said they should wait for the evidence to be collected.

Conservative former minister Maria Miller said: "It's important that this place does debate such serious allegations, but that we debate them once the evidence has been collected."

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle interrupted: "I hope that's not a question on me granting this UQ, because that's where it looks like it's going, I wouldn't go down that road."

Ms Miller said "sorry" and restated her remarks, saying: "It's important that we have a debate in this place about these issues once the final recommendations have been put forward by Sue Gray, because it's important that we look at the evidence."


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