PM 'refused to accept resignation' from top aide who reportedly spoke at No10 Xmas party

10 December 2021, 19:51

Boris Johnson reportedly refused to accept Jack Doyle's resignation
Boris Johnson reportedly refused to accept Jack Doyle's resignation. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Boris Johnson reportedly refused to accept an offer of resignation from Jack Doyle, his former press chief, after allegations he made a speech at the infamous Christmas party thought to be held in No10 while London was under tight coronavirus restrictions.

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Jack Doyle was the Prime Minister's press secretary at the time of the alleged party, and is now Downing Street's director of communications.

At the party - which allegedly featured Secret Santa, food, drink and games - Mr Doyle is thought to have addressed the press team of up to 50 people.

He thanked them for their work and presented some awards.

Read more: Boris under fire: PM's senior aide 'gave speech at Downing Street Christmas party'

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After the allegations came to light Mr Doyle offered to quit, according to a source quoted by the BBC.

But the Prime Minister reportedly refused to accept his resignation.

Downing Street has denied Mr Doyle offered to quit, and the Prime Minister says he has "full confidence" in him.

No10 also refused to comment further on the allegations themselves, other than to say a fact-finding review was ongoing.

Mr Doyle has been approached for comment.

The fallout from the alleged party - held while London was in Tier 2 in December 2020 - has been ongoing since a leaked video released by ITV News on Tuesday showed members of the Prime Minister's top team laughing about the party four days later.

On Friday Dominic Cummings - who left Downing Street last year after breaching Covid rules himself - said Mr Doyle was a "gonner".

He claimed Mr Johnson "will be thinking ‘not now, gotta keep him as the sacrifice for Case’s inquiry then – I’m shocked, shocked I tell you to discover there was a party and I was misled – do a deal with Jack to keep all the wallpaper horror buried'."

Read more: Polls in freefall as sleaze allegations and Christmas party storm hit PM

Read more: Cummings says No10 Xmas party photos will 'inevitably get out' and bring down Boris

Mr Cummings also said photographic evidence of the party existed and would eventually come out.

He added he thought Mr Johnson probably knew about the 18 December event at the centre of the scandal and predicted the prime minister would "be gone before the next election".

An inquiry, led by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, will scrutinise two reported Downing Street parties held on November 27 and December 18 alongside one party held at the education department on December 10.

There have been calls for the prime minister to resign following the Christmas party scandal, with Sir Keir Starmer claiming he is "unfit for office".

Read more: No10 Xmas party probe: Who is Simon Case and what will he investigate?

Read more: Boris cancels Xmas party amid fury over lockdown bash but says gatherings can go ahead

Sir Keir told The Telegraph MPs must think about whether they wanted to "endure this for the next two years", accusing the prime minister of forcing his MPs to 'degrade themselves' by 'defending the indefensible'.

"He’s unfit for office, it isn’t going to change," Sir Keir told the paper.

"Are [the Conservatives] going to do something about it?"