MP Jim Shannon breaks down in Commons as he delivers tearful question over Downing Street lockdown party

 MP Jim Shannon breaks down in Commons as he delivers tearful question over Downing Street lockdown party

An MP was overcome with emotion when speaking about the death of his mother-in-law in the House of Commons during an urgent question about an alleged lockdown-breaking party in the Number 10 garden in May 2020.

In an emotional contribution in the Commons, DUP MP Jim Shannon said: “In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to Covid just last week. Including my mother-in-law, who died alone.”

The MP for Strangford struggled to go on with his question before sitting back down.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis said: “I’m very sorry for his loss. He’s asking me if the results of the investigation will be made public, and they will be.”

This comes amid a leaked email showing that Boris Johnson was among 100 members of staff invited to a rule-breaking “bring your own booze” Downing Street party during the height of coronavirus restrictions on May 20, 2020.

The email, sent by the civil servant who runs the Prime Minister’s private office, was leaked to reporters on Monday, placing Mr Johnson under renewed pressure.

Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary, invited No 10 staff to attend a “socially distanced drinks” reception to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

Attendees of the alleged garden party have claimed the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie Johnson were present at the gathering but this has not been confirmed or denied by Downing Street.

On Tuesday several MPs also raised cases of constituents who suffered losses during the pandemic and were unable to attend funerals, with Mr Ellis “apologising unreservedly” for the upset caused by the allegations.

The paymaster general was dispatched to face an urgent question about the allegation in the Commons, allowing Mr Johnson to avoid scrutiny for now.

Asked what the Prime Minister was doing rather than responding himself, the PM’s spokesman said: “I don’t have the full diary in front of me at the moment but it’s not uncommon, obviously, for Government ministers to answer these sorts of questions.”

The numerous allegations of lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall are being investigated by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

The PM’s spokesman said he would not comment on the parties saga while Ms Gray’s investigation was ongoing, saying that No 10 “wouldn’t want to be seen to be prejudging that ongoing work”.

PM’s position ‘untenable’ if he attended party

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group has said if the Prime Minister attended the alleged gathering his position is “untenable” and he has “lost all moral authority to lead the country”.

Members of the group met Mr Johnson last year in the Downing Street garden, where the alleged gathering is said to have taken place, and said he “looked us in the eyes and told us he had ‘done all he could’ to save our loved ones”.

They said he must “come clean to the country in a way that he didn’t with us”.

Group spokesman Lobby Akinnola, who lost his father Femi in April 2020, said: “It’s beyond belief that the Government seems to be suggesting a report is needed to determine whether Boris Johnson was at the event at all.

“He knows. The dozens of people there know. Why does the Prime Minister need someone to tell him whether or not he was at a party?”

Related post