Allegra Stratton quits as pressure mounts on PM over leaked Christmas party video 8 months ago

Allegra Stratton quits as pressure mounts on PM over leaked Christmas party video

Downing Street staff quits job over Christmas party PM claims never took place!

Allegra Stratton, the Downing Street staffer who on Tuesday became a household name when a video was leaked showing her jovially fielding questions about a Christmas party at No.10, has quit.

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Stratton, who at the time of the video was the PM's press secretary, offered her "profound apologies" on Wednesday hours after Johnson was roasted at PMQs over the clip and the alleged party.

The aide - who later worked as COP26 spokeswoman - gave a tearful statement outside her house after Johnson announced an investigation.

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Stratton said she had "become a distraction in that fight" against the Covid pandemic.

"My remarks seemed to make light of the rules, rules that people were doing everything to obey," she added.

"That was never my intention.

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"I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days and I offer my profound apologies to all of you at home for them."

In footage leaked to ITV Stratton, who until Wednesday remained Johnson's spokesperson on COP26, takes questions about reports of a Downing Street Christmas party said to have occurred on December 18, while the UK was under Tier 3 restrictions that explicitly banned gatherings.

The footage was reportedly filmed on December 22 as part of preparations for televised briefings by Stratton that did not go ahead.

During the leaked video, Stratton is asked by Ed Oldfield, a special adviser to the Prime Minister: "I've just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?"

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"I went home", Stratton says, laughing, before subsequently composing herself.

Oldfield then asks: “Would the Prime Minister condone having a Christmas party?”

The footage shows Stratton responding by asking “what’s the answer?” to which another person in the room can be heard saying: “It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine.”

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Ms Stratton then asks: “Is cheese and wine alright?” After laughing again, Stratton goes on to say: "This fictional party was a business meeting ... and it was not socially distanced."

On Wednesday, during PMQs, Johnson shared the public's disgust at the video, saying he was "sickened and furious", but did not admit a party had actually happened.

Read more: Boris Johnson apologises for a party he says didn't happen

The Met Police have said they are reviewing the video.

Stratton rose to prominence as a journalist, first as political correspondent for the Guardian then as political editor for BBC2's Newsnight.

The 41-year-old later joined ITV as a national news editor and, in 2015, co-presented Preston on Sunday alongside Robert Preston.

Stratton left journalism in April 2020, quitting to join the government as the Director of Strategic Communications for Rishi Sunak's treasury.

The former journalist was to hold planned television briefings last year before Johnson changed his mind. She then became the PM's spokesperson on COP26 which took place in Glasgow last month. Because the UK retains COP presidency for the year, Stratton's position continued.

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