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Friday, August 12, 2022

There is no festive atmosphere in Downing Street – it is one of fear

For several days, rumours swirled around Westminster that photos of the party or parties held at Downing Street just before last Christmas would soon emerge in the media. Now the Sunday Mirror has duly revealed a picture of Boris Johnson hosting an online quiz with some of his staff.

It could have been worse: if, for example, the prime minister had been captured with a glass in his hand or, like two aides pictured – one draped in tinsel and another in a Christmas hat. According to the Mirror, many staff “huddled by computers, conferring on questions and knocking back fizz, wine and beer from a local Tesco Metro.”

For Keir Starmer, it was bad enough. Johnson loves to mock him as an out of touch North London leftie lawyer but on this occasion the former director of public prosecutions has exactly the right credentials to pass judgement on him. “It is very hard to see how that is compliant with the rules,” Starmer told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. That means the law; at the time of the quiz on 15 December, the rules for London said there should be no mixing of households indoors and official guidance ruled out work lunches or parties “where that is a primarily social activity” not exempted for “work purposes”.

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