Labour call for probe into No 10 party 'cover up' allegations

15 January 2022, 19:01

Sir Keir Starmer has called for Boris Johnson to resign as a matter of "national interest"
Sir Keir Starmer has called for Boris Johnson to resign as a matter of "national interest". Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The leader of the Labour Party has called for Boris Johnson to resign as a matter of "national interest" amid claims Number 10 staff were asked to delete evidence of lockdown breaking parties at Downing Street.

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Sir Keir Starmer hit out at the prime Minister for "hiding" from No 10 party allegations whilst calling on Tories to "do what they need to get rid of him".

During a speech at the Fabian Society conference in London, Sir Keir said: "What we've now got to is a situation where you have a prime minister who has lost the moral authority to lead.

"And just when you need, because we are not out of the pandemic, a government that has that moral authority to lead, we've lost it with this prime minister."

He added: "The moral authority matters of course in relation to COVID, but we've got other massive challenges facing this country.

"We've got a prime minister who is absent - he is literally in hiding at the moment and unable to lead, so that's why I've concluded that he has got to go.

"And of course there is a party advantage in him going but actually it is now in the national interest that he goes, so it is very important now that the Tory Party does what it needs to do and gets rid of him."

It comes after deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, reportedly wrote a letter to Cabinet Secretay, Simon Case, demanding "urgent" answers in response to claims No 10 staff were asked to delete evidence of illegal Downing Street parties.

According to The Independent, staff were told to "clean up" their phones of anything that could be deemed as evidence of a party.

The letter formally asks Mr Case whether both the Cabinet Office and Downing Street had referred themselves to the Information Comissioner’s Office.

Ms Rayner wrote: "The British Civil Service is known around the world for upholding the highest standards and, as you are of course aware, the Civil Service Code is designed to ensure that officials can conduct their work without fear or favour.

"I am concerned that in order to move on from this raft of scandals that junior staff may lose their jobs in order to protect politicians or their appointees."

The PM is currently fighting to keep the keys to No10 after fury at a constant stream of "partygate" allegations.

His office has had to apologise to the Queen for a do that was held on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, which the monarch attended alone under Covid rules, and he said sorry to MPs for attending a Downing Street garden event in May 2020, during lockdown.

He has insisted he thought it was a work do - but his apologies did little to placate opposition, with Scottish Tories joining Labour in calling for him to go before a group mocked him outside Downing Street, dressed in Boris Johnson masks and partying as they dubbed it a work event.

The PM has now reportedly launched what he's dubbed "Operation Save Big Dog", which will work out who should lose their jobs after Sue Gray's investigation into Government staff parties during Covid restrictions is completed.

Supportive ministers will be lined up to carry out interviews backing Mr Johnson, it is claimed.

New allegations of "wine time Fridays" have emerged, despite Covid measures being in place, while a photo has emerged of a fridge being delivered to the back door of No10 in December 2020.

The Mirror said aides would take turns visiting a Tesco Metro in Westminster to fill up the 34-bottle capacity fridge.The Telegraph claimed about 20 letters of no confidence have been submitted in the Tory backbench group, the 1922 Committee, short of the 54 required.

Yesterday, speaking about the apology to Buckingham Palace after outrage at a party taking place hours before Philip's Covid-restricted funeral, the PM's official spokesman said: "It's deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning, and No10 has apologised to the Palace," he said.

"You've heard from the Prime Minister this week, he's recognised No10 should be held to the highest standards and take responsibility for the things we did not get right."We have apologised to the Palace."