Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, has criticised Boris Johnson for not responding in person to the UQ on the No 10 party that is about to start. She said:
Despite having no official engagements listed today, the prime minister has again failed to turn up to parliament and face the music. His absence speaks volumes. Boris Johnson holds the British public in contempt.
At the No 10 lobby briefing the PM’s spokesman said it was “not uncommon” for another minister to be asked to reply to a question like this.
Tony Lloyd (Lab), who had Covid last year, says his life was saved by medical staff who came forward to help him. Don’t they deserve better than what they are getting from No 10.
Ellis says we should not prejudge what happened. There are claims based on unknown sources. He says we should wait for the results of the inquiry.
Maria Eagle (Lab) says no self-respecting minister would come to answer this UQ without knowing the fact. Does he know if the PM attended the party?
Ellis says that is a matter for Sue Gray and her investigation. It is not a matter for him, he claims.
Charlotte Nichols (Lab) says a constituent was fined for breaking lockdown rules. She asks when he and all other people fined will get their money back, given that No 10 broke the rules too.
Ellis says Nichols should await the results of the inquiry.
Afzal Khan (Lab) says his mother died in hospital in March last year. He had to be outside in a car. When asked about the parties on Sky News, Johnson “smirked and laughed”. Will the PM apologise for the pain caused by the parties, and for lying about it.
Ellis says Johnson understands the pain caused by this. He urges Khan to wait until Sue Gray reports.
Wendy Chamberlain (Lib Dem) says police officers were assaulted while enforcing Covid regulations. She says the PM should apologise to those officers.
Ellis says Boris Johnson has always been a strong supporter of the police. They know that.
Ian Lavery (Lab) asks what advice he would give to a hypothetical PM who has lied to this country, who has lied to MPs, and who has laughed when people have died.
Ellis says the advice he would offer would be to be fair to all sides, and to listen to the evidence. That is what we expect in this country.
Johnson ‘retains confidence of people of this country’, says minister
Ben Bradshaw (Lab) asks if the PM will resign if he is shown to have broken the law.
Ellis says that is a hypothetic question. The PM is going nowhere, he says. He says he “retains the confidence of the people of this country”.
Pete Wishart (SNP) says the PM should resign. “For goodness sake, man, go.”
Ellis says an inquiry is underway. Wishart should wait for its conclusions, he says.
Catherine McKinnell (Lab) says support groups for alcoholics were not allowed to meet during lockdown. If No 10 was holding a party at the same time, that would be obscene, she says.
Sir Christopher Chope (Con) says the civil service must have known about the party on 20 May. Why did they not refer it to the inquiry earlier?
Ellis says the fact that a number of dates are being looked at will delay the investigation.
Ellis says Boris Johnson will be in Commons for PMQs as usual tomorrow.
Suzanne Webb (Con) says the time of the Commons would be better spent talking how the government will level up.
Ellis says Webb is right to say levelling up is important, but this matter is of concern too. It should be investigated.
Angela Eagle (Lab) says it might be quicker for Sue Gray to investigate a day when there were no parties at No 10. She says 268 people died in hospital on the day the No 10 party was held. What is there to wait for? The PM should come here and “fess up”, she says.
Ellis says Eagle has a reputation for fairness, so she should see the case for allowing the investigation to conclude.
Peter Bone (Con) says he has “great confidence” in the PM. He says he was worried by Ellis’s comment that the inquiry might be paused if there is a Met inquiry.
Ellis says the PM wants the Gray inquiry to conclude quickly. But it is a matter for her.