A “party of sorts” took place in Downing Street last December and the Prime Minister has “questions to answer” over his response, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said.
Boris Johnson has been under increasing pressure over allegations his staff had a party in breach of lockdown rules in place at the time, with ITV News releasing a video on Tuesday night showing Downing Street aides preparing for a press briefing and appearing to joke about the gathering.
Mr Johnson has ordered an investigation into claims surrounding the alleged get-together, but insisted during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday that he has been repeatedly assured “there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken”.
Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader, described Mr Johnson’s response during PMQs as “pathetic”.
Mr Ross, speaking to STV News, said he still has confidence in the Prime Minister but that Mr Johnson has “serious questions to answer” over how he has handled the issue.
“I think it’s right we need an inquiry,” Mr Ross said.
“Clearly, from what we’ve seen over the last 12 hours or so with the video footage emerging, there are serious questions that need to be answered.
“Looking at what I’ve seen, there was a party of sorts, I don’t think we can get away from that, therefore questions need to be asked as to why that was allowed.”
Mr Ross refused to say if the Prime Minster had misled Parliament over his denial that a party took place.
This is coming out bit by bit and I think the Government really need to grasp this, get this inquiry by the Cabinet Secretary up and running quickly and deliver the answers promptlyDouglas Ross
When asked if he has confidence in the Prime Minister, Mr Ross said: “I have confidence in the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but he and his Government have serious questions to answer.
“I trust the Prime Minister, but when he made statements last week they seemed to be very different to what he is saying this week and the video evidence that has emerged since then, and that’s a very serious issue for him, for his Government and for everyone involved in whatever happened in Downing Street last December.”
The Moray MP resigned from his post in the Scotland Office after it was revealed that then Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules.
When asked if the latest potential breach is worse, Mr Ross said: “We don’t know, because we don’t have full answers yet and that’s part of the problem.
“This is coming out bit by bit and I think the Government really need to grasp this, get this inquiry by the Cabinet Secretary up and running quickly and deliver the answers promptly.
“Last December, I didn’t have the same Christmas with my family, with my parents or (wife) Krystle’s parents, and that’s nothing compared to the people who lost loved ones during this pandemic, who couldn’t see people in hospital.
“So I’m angry for them and I’m angry at how this has been handled, because they just want honesty from politicians, from their government and across the political spectrum and there are serious questions to answer.”
He said his biggest worry is that members of the public “give up” on following public health measures and “you can’t escape” the fact that the Prime Minister’s handling of the issue is damaging the public health message.
He said he is “not going to get into what could happen to the Prime Minister at the end of this”.
None of this is remotely defensible. Not having busy, boozy not-parties while others were sticking to the rules, unable to visit ill or dying loved ones.— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonPC) December 8, 2021
Nor flat-out denying things that are easily provable. Not taking the public for fools. 1/2
Ms Davidson said on Twitter: “None of this is remotely defensible.
“Not having busy, boozy not-parties while others were sticking to the rules, unable to visit ill or dying loved ones.
“Nor flat-out denying things that are easily provable. Not taking the public for fools.
“And today’s ‘we’ll investigate what we’ve spent a week saying didn’t happen and discipline staff for rules we continue to say weren’t broken’ was pathetic.
“As a Tory, I was brought up to believe in playing with a straight bat. Believe me, colleagues are furious at this, too.”