Boris quiz: PM insists 'I certainly broke no rules' over 'the thing with the Zoom call'

13 December 2021, 13:54 | Updated: 13 December 2021, 21:10

Boris Johnson has said he 'broke no rules' over the 'thing with the Zoom call'
Boris Johnson has said he 'broke no rules' over the 'thing with the Zoom call'. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has come out swinging, despite public fury at an alleged Christmas party and his participation in a quiz, insisting: "I certainly broke no rules."

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Anger has mounted at allegations Downing Street staff took part in a festive gathering despite Tier 3 restrictions in London last December.

That was compounded when The Sunday Mirror broke that Mr Johnson took part in a virtual No10 quiz a few days earlier – when the capital was in Tier 2 – which a spokesperson admitted he participated in "briefly".

It was suggested Mr Johnson broke the rules by doing so, but he has denied that.

Read more: Under-fire PM hosted Downing Street Christmas quiz last year during lockdown

Read more: PM faces rebellion from almost 70 Tory MPs over Covid passports

Civil servant Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, is investigating the party allegation and will also look into the quiz, the PM said.

"I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules - the whole thing will be looked into by the Cabinet Secretary, and what I'm focused on, frankly, is the vaccine rollout," Mr Johnson said on Monday.

When asked if that would include the quiz, he said: "He's looking at all these things. Is that the thing with the Zoom call? Yeah."

Mr Johnson added that the investigation's findings would come back "as soon as we reasonably can".

His plea of innocence follows Labour's suggestion that he might have misled Parliament, having previously insisted he believed all guidance was followed, and broken rules when he took part in the quiz.

The Sunday Mirror said a source described staff huddling over computers in their No10 offices, drinking alcohol and discussing questions, while a photo was published of the PM appearing virtually, flanked by colleagues - one wearing tinsel and the other in a Santa hat.

At the time, Tier 2 Covid rules said people could not mix with other households indoors except for support bubbles.

Mr Case is also looking into an alleged staff leaving do at Downing Street in November last year and festive drinks at the Department for Education.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it is "very hard" to see how Tier 2 rules could have been followed during the quiz.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson needed to "fess up" over the allegations and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said the PM's credibility was "in tatters".

Anger within Mr Johnson's own party at new Covid measures and his handling of the allegations was on full show when one MP, William Wragg, suggesting the new measures designed to fight the Omicron variant were a "diversionary tactic".

The Metropolitan Police has said it would not investigate the allegations because it does not want to look into alleged "retrospective breaches".