Starmer: PM showing 'dishonesty upon dishonesty and isn't fit for office'

9 December 2021, 23:54 | Updated: 10 December 2021, 14:19

By Daisy Stephens

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has told LBC Boris Johnson is "not fit for office" as he criticised his "dishonesty upon dishonesty" over the alleged Christmas party at Downing Street.

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Speaking in Northumberland, where he is visiting those still affected by Storm Arwen, Sir Keir said all those responsible should be held to account for the alleged breaches of coronavirus rules at No10 in the run-up to Christmas 2020.

He told LBC: "He [Boris Johnson] spent a week denying there was a party in his own building and now he is getting his Cabinet Secretary to investigate the party he says didn't happen in his own building.

"Now we know there were other parties happening - this is dishonesty upon dishonesty from a Prime Minister who is not fit for office."

He continued that the public and communities - such as those affected by Storm Arwen still 10 days on - are "paying the price".

"I'm very worried that just when we need trust in the Prime Minister he has destroyed that trust - and it's all of his own making," he added.

Read more: Boris backlash: Three parties probed as pressure grows on PM over Xmas scandal

Read more: Fuming Tory MPs threaten revolt over Covid rules that order WFH but allow Xmas parties

Referencing the investigation into the alleged party which took place at No10, Sir Keir said it is "bordering on ridiculous".

He continued: "Why doesn't he just end the investigation by admitting these parties took place and be straight with the British public."

Sir Keir also 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 they going to do something about it?"

He later tweeted: "Boris Johnson is unfit to lead our country."

LBC has approached Number 10 for a comment.

The Labour leader’s comments come at the end of a tumultuous week for the Prime Minister.

On Tuesday a video, obtained by ITV News, showed Mr Johnson’s former spokesperson Allegra Stratton joking about a Christmas party at Downing Street, allegedly held on December 18 last year – when London was in Tier 3 of coronavirus restrictions.

From there came a string of allegations relating to parties held by top officials during varying levels of Covid restrictions in the autumn of 2020.

As many as seven parties may have been held during that period, including a party at the Tory HQ organised by Shaun Bailey’s campaign, a gathering at the Department for Education, several leaving parties, and the infamous one on December 18 – which Boris Johnson continues to deny took place.

Read more: Pressure mounts on Met chief over decision not to investigate No10 party claims

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

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Johnson apologised for the "impression" given to the public by the video featuring Ms Stratton, who has since quit, but insisted all rules were followed.

"I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures, and I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules because I was also furious to see that clip," he said.

"I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression that it gives.

"But I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, and that is what I have been repeatedly assured."

A snap poll on Wednesday revealed that over half of Brits thought Mr Johnson should quit over the fallout from the gathering – which took place on a day where 514 died with Covid and 1,921 were hospitalised.

Then, on Thursday, Boris Johnson faced a fresh storm after it was revealed he may have misled an investigation into the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, after a watchdog fined the Tories £17,800.

Read more: Ex-Met standards boss enrages LBC listeners saying 'no public interest' in No10 Xmas party

Read more: Three women fined for parties on same day as alleged Downing St Xmas gathering

The investigation by The Electoral Commission found he personally asked for more funds for the work, despite claiming three months later that he knew nothing about the payments.

The Tories are considering whether to launch an appeal against the fine.