New polling by Savanta ComRes suggests that the public are both very aware of the story surrounding No.10 Downing Street’s Xmas party last year and highly critical of it having happened at all.
Three quarters say that they are aware of the story (75%), rising to eight in ten of the Conservative’s own voters (81%), and over three in five say that Boris Johnson, who wasn’t in attendance, should have to apologise for it having happened (63%). The proportion who say that the PM should have to apologise includes half of those who voted for him in 2019 (48%).
Further, Brits are sceptical of the suggestion by No.10 that no Covid rules at the time were broken, with three in five saying a party could not have taken place without breaking the Covid rules (61%), with just one in five believing that this was possible (22%).
Regardless of whether or not rules were broken, and with many having had to face tough choices for their own festive plans in 2020, one in six say that No.10 deserved their Christmas party last year (18%), rising to just under three in ten 2019 Con voters (28%).
The story of the Christmas party 2020 has emerged against a backdrop of repeated rule breaking by government ministers and officials, compounded by allegations of corruption and favouritism for party donors. And perhaps more significant that this story itself, is the fact that seven in ten UK adults believe it is one rule for the government and another for everybody else (72%).
With almost six in ten 2019 Conservative voters (58%) also believing this, it may go some way towards explaining why the Tories’ lead in our Westminster Voting Intention has been reduced to just 1pt (Con 38, Lab 37, LDM 9).
Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes said, “The government’s assertions that no Covid rules were broken despite No.10 staffers having an unofficial Christmas party last year while London was in Tier 3 restrictions remains one of the more baffling denials I can recall, and clearly in continuing to deny even the most obvious rule-breaking the government were hoping the story would just go away and it wouldn’t impact them.
“We have, of course, seen a narrowing of the Conservative lead in recent weeks, down to just one point in our latest poll, but if voters were really that bothered by the government’s blatant disregard for them, one would imagine that they’d be flocking to other parties in their droves.
“The fact that they’re not, makes one wonder how bad things have to get before Conservative voters will abandon them for Labour instead.”
The Labour Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry MP told Sky News, “You hear both things, you hear there was no party and, if there was a party, it kept to the rules.
“You can’t have it both ways.
“The evidence that we are hearing again in the papers today is that it was a staff party at Downing Street, that’s what it was.