UK government advisor Allegra Stratton resigned from her post after a leaked video revealed she made jokes about a Christmas party held last year while the public was suffering from the quarantine lockdown due to COVID-19.
Although officials have denied that the party took place, BBC contacts confirmed that it did take place on Dec. 18, 2020, and was attended by “several dozen” people, according to a Dec. 8 release.
The public’s outrage was reflected in a poll showing that most citizens believe it did occur. One ICU nurse even commented, “While they were partying, I was caring for people who were dying.”
The video obtained by ITV shows Stratton preparing for a press conference and mockingly says, “This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”
Disgust was not only expressed among citizens but also among politicians, mainly among Conservative MPs, most notably Sir Roger Gale, who said, “the buck stops at the top.”
He also demanded explanations from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. For her part, former Conservative leader Baroness Warsi pressed for all officials who attended the party to resign, “no ifs, no buts.”
In this regard, Labour leader Keir Starmer said Johnson had to give answers about the scandal, “To lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful. The prime minister now needs to come clean and apologize,” he said in a statement.
Johnson offered an apology and announced that an investigation would be carried out and “then there will be disciplinary action for all those involved.”
In the context of the pandemic, the UK government banned Christmas parties, and no business meetings could be held in London between two or more people indoors unless they were “reasonably necessary.”
The rigidity of quarantine confinement meant that many Britons would not see their relatives over Christmas or for the New Year.
Stratton eventually expressed regret and announced the resignation: “To all of you who lost loved ones, endured intolerable loneliness and struggled with your businesses—I am sorry and this afternoon I have offered my resignation to the prime minister.”
This case of politicians and civil servants exempting themselves from the rules they set for their constituents has been repeated on many occasions in different countries.
In the United States, the cases have been frequent involving everything from the President, Joe Biden, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser.
Bowser had just reinstated mandatory indoor facemasks in Washington, DC, because of the threat of COVID-19 contamination in July. The Washington Examiner reported that she then officiated at a wedding with hundreds of attendees without a mask.