Pressure on PM

New WFM order as No 10 ‘party’ tests public patience

ITV obtained footage of the Number 10 ‘party’

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned of further restrictions on businesses and the public amid a growing storm around the UK government’s willingness to comply with its own rules.

Ms Sturgeon said she was prepared to sacrifice popularity for keeping the country safe and said employers should encourage their staff to work remotely until the middle of January to help halt the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The First Minister said the restrictions would now be reviewed daily and warned of “difficult judgements” ahead.

However, her message came as a row over an alleged Downing Street party last Christmas threatened to weaken the public’s willingness to comply with further restrictions.

A video obtained by ITV shows senior No 10 staff joking about holding a party last year.

At the time, the government’s coronavirus guidance specifically stated that people should not have Christmas parties and gatherings in London of two or more people indoors were banned unless they were “reasonably necessary” for work. Downing Street continues to insist no party took place.

The video shows the PM’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton, a former BBC journalist, at the lectern in the former press room hosting a mock news conference.

“This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced,” she jokes.

Ms Stratton responds in a playful tone to questions from colleagues pretending to be journalists.

Special adviser to the prime minister Ed Oldfield asks her about reports of a party in Downing Street “on Friday night”.

In reply, Ms Stratton says: “I went home” and then pauses.

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