Boris Johnson wants ‘dead cat’ plan B measures to distract from Christmas party, suggests Cummings | The Independent

2021-12-31 11:07:31 By : Mr. Vincent --

‘Regime change is coming’, says former top adviser

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Dominic Cummings has suggested that Boris Johnson has asked for so-called plan B restrictions to distract from the leaked video showing No 10 officials joking about a banned Christmas party.

The prime minister and senior ministers are today expected to agree the introduction of tighter Covid restrictions at an emergency meeting called in response to the rise of the Omicron variant.

Mr Johnson’s former top adviser claimed he would have asked for a “dead cat” to take attention away from footage showing No 10 staff joking about holding a festive party during lockdown last December.

Mr Cummings tweeted: “Martin need a f***ing dead cat army matey, yeah yeah Plan B great.... [thumbs up run from room] CRASH. Noooooo that will make the party story worrrrrse Martin, need something else. SMASH.”

The former adviser also declared that “regime change is coming” and “the fish rots from the head” following the growing row over denied claims of a festive shindig at Downing Street on 18 December.

The video shared by ITV, recorded on 22 December 2020, shows then-press secretary Allegra Stratton appearing to joke about an illicit party at No 10 during a rehearsal for televised daily government media briefings. “Is cheese and wine all right? It was a business meeting,” Ms Stratton says, laughing.

A backlash over the footage has seen Tory MPs warn the prime minister that he needs to seek and provide clear answers on the claims of a breach in Covid regulations.

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has warned the “game’s up” for Boris Johnson if he deliberately misleads the Commons over any Christmas party held at Downing Street.

“I think the chairman of the 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady would have to carry a very clear message to the prime minister under those circumstances … meaning, the game’s up,” Sir Roger told the BBC on Wednesday.

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi also called for anyone found to have attended the festive event to resign, while fellow Tory Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Defence Select Committee, called for the cabinet secretary or another “senior figure” to investigate any events held at No 10 over the Christmas period.

Conservative MP Peter Aldous said the leaked footage of senior No 10 aides laughing about an alleged Christmas party looks “very bad” and casts “the situation in a different light”.

In a highly unusual turn of events no government minister was made available to broadcasters on Wednesday morning to defend Downing Street’s record, despite invitations.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss was forced to answers on the Christmas party controversy after giving a major speech on Britain’s role in the world at Chatham House.

Asked about claims of festive events held at Downing Street, Ms Truss said: “It’s in everybody’s interests that we follow the Covid rules. As to alleged events at No 10, I don’t know the details of what happened.”

Pressed again on whether the public can trust the government if the government doesn’t follow rules, the senior minister said: “We do follow the rules on Covid. On that particular issue, I’m not aware of the precise circumstances.”

Senior Whitehall sources said that a meeting of the government’s Covid-O committee has been called to discuss whether to step up restrictions, with a press conference expected later on Wednesday to announce changes.

Plan B involves new guidance to work from home if possible, as well as the introduction of Covid passes for crowded venues such as nightclubs.

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