Angela Rayner had to take over from Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer last week after he tested positive for the coronavirus for the second time in a year. Ms Rayner clashed with Boris Johnson over growing energy bills prices and demanded a cut in VAT to help struggling Britons. She confirmed on BBC Breakfast she could once again step up in the Commons to question the Prime Minister on allegations of partying during lockdown as Sir Keir waits to see whether he is now negative.
Ms Rayner told BBC host Nina Warhurst: “I’m waiting for Keir’s test results this morning.
“And if Keir is testing negative then, obviously, he’s able to take Prime Minister’s Questions.
“But either way, I’ll be right by his side if he’s there or I will be there to hold the Government to account.”
In her interview, Ms Rayner reiterated Boris Johnson needs to personally address fresh allegations of a party being held at Number 10 at the height of the first lockdown in May 2020.
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An email obtained by ITV earlier this week seemingly showed top civil servant Martin Reynolds urging staff to attend a gathering in Downing Street’s garden and to “bring your own booze.”
Regulation at the time required Britons not to meet more than one person outside of one’s bubble outside.
Ms Rayner insisted Mr Johnson is “not the right Prime Minister for this country” as she said his position is now “untenable.”
She also had to push back against accusations that the Labour Party has been trying to “capitalise” on the claims to gain support.
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Anger at the allegations has come from many directions, including within the Tory Party.
Backbencher Nigel Mills warned that any senior figure who willingly attended the event could not have a position where they were responsible for setting COVID-19 policy.
He told the BBC: “It is utterly untenable, we have seen people resign for far less than that. If the Prime Minister knowingly attended a party, I can’t see how he can survive.”
Downing Street has refused to say if he was present at the May event, despite reports he and his then fiancee Carrie Symonds, were among around 30 people to attend at a time when such gatherings were banned.
The Prime Minister has said it is a matter for Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who is investigating a series of reported parties in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall in the course of 2020 to determine what happened.
Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, said there was a lot of anger over what had happened and said the Prime Minister urgently needed to rebuild public trust.
“I think the Prime Minister needs to spend the next six months restoring trust in No 10 and making some good and strong decisions. I think that is the challenge for him,” he told Channel 4 News.