The Mirror newspaper revealed last week that Downing Street had held a Christmas party in December last year at a time when such gatherings were prohibited by Covid rules. The prime minister and other government ministers have since either denied that a party took place, or that rules were broken.
Now the results of a snap YouGov poll today show that the public believe neither claim.
More than three quarters of Britons (78%) think a Christmas party was held at No. 10 last year, with just 6% thinking there wasn’t one. Both Conservative voters (70%) and Labour voters (91%) are convinced that a party took place.
Likewise, a big majority of Britons (79%) think that in holding a gathering (which may have included cheese and wine, secret Santa, or music, depending on differing accounts) Downing Street broke the Covid rules at the time. Again, large numbers of Conservative voters (68%) and Labour voters (93%) view the event as an illicit party.
Footage emerged last night of senior aides to the prime minister joking about the alleged party a few days after it took place, and discussing how to rebut any questions about it.
This story does appear to have reached the much-discussed ‘cut-through’ among the public - half of Britons (50%) say they are following this story closely, with a further 45% not following it closely or at all – and with just a mere 5% saying they are unaware of the story.
Although asked further into the news cycle, this does represent a greater level of awareness than for the Owen Paterson misconduct and government corruption stories in November.
A separate YouGov survey last week found that Britons think it does matter if such a party took place.