New restrictions introduced in 'diversionary tactic'

8 December 2021, 20:10 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

Boris Johnson has denied that he has introduced Plan B to "distract" from No10&squot;s &squot;Christmas party&squot;, as alleged by Tory MP William Wragg.
Boris Johnson has denied that he has introduced Plan B to "distract" from No10's 'Christmas party', as alleged by Tory MP William Wragg. Picture: Alamy/Parliament TV

By Sophie Barnett

A Conservative MP has accused Boris Johnson of introducing Plan B Covid measures as a "diversionary tactic" as fury grows in the party over his handling of the Christmas party scandal.

William Wragg took on the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on Tuesday, in which he claimed the imposition of restrictions amounted to a ploy to distract from headlines about the alleged Downing Street Christmas party.

He represented one of several Tory figures to take aim at the PM after senior No10 staff were seen laughing about a party in a leaked video from when London was in Covid restrictions.

Speaking in the Commons ahead of the press conference where Mr Johnson announced restrictions, Mr Wragg said: "There are media reports of a Cabinet meeting and press conference this afternoon to initiate Covid Winter Plan B without reference to this House.

"Covid passes will not increase uptake of the vaccine, but will create a segregated society.

"Is the Prime Minister aware that very few will be convinced by this diversionary tactic?"

Mr Johnson sidestepped the claim during Prime Minister's Questions.

PM: 'All the evidence I can see is that people in this building have stayed within the rules'

But he later denied the claims at a press conference when he announced the Plan B measures.

Mr Johnson was pressed by journalists at Downing Street over the Christmas party, which is alleged to have taken place on December 18 last year - when London was under strict Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions.

He was asked by Ben Riley-Smith, of the Telegraph, whether he called the announcement forward to "bounce" headlines about the Christmas party, as suggested by a number of MPs.

But Mr Johnson said he is acting now "to protect public health".

Read more: 'Fuming' Tories lash out at PM's 'pathetic' response to Christmas party video

Read more: PM issues grovelling apology as he’s accused of ‘taking public for fools’

ITV Exclusive: No10 Downing Street staff joke about Christmas party

"Just imagine the counter-factual, colleagues say, or people say, we are somehow making this announcement to coincide with events in politics," he said.

"Well, actually imagine if this step were to have been delayed because of political events of one kind or another. What would people say then?"

He said SAGE only met on Tuesday to discuss the new measures which needed to be taken to curb the spread of the disease, which has now been found across the UK.

Mr Johnson continued that the virus has "become unmissable".

Read more: Met Police to examine leaked footage of No10 aides joking about Christmas party

Read more: Downing St staff joke about Xmas party in leaked clip after ministers deny it took place

Boris Johnson says that, as far as he's aware, 'the rules were followed' on December 18

He said: "If you delay you see more doublings [of cases] and your position becomes inevitably worse and more difficult."

Mr Johnson's comments come after Allegra Stratton, one of his senior advisers, resigned on Wednesday evening in a tearful statement outside her home.

She said she will "regret" the remarks made in the leaked video, which was obtained by ITV News, for the "rest of her days".