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Moment MP breaks down over death of mother-in-law amid anger at No 10 'BYOB party' during lockdown

·Political Correspondent - Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
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  • Michael Ellis
    British politician (born 1967)

An MP broke down during a debate on the latest alleged Downing Street party as he spoke about the death of his mother-in-law.

DUP MP Jim Shannon was visibly overcome with emotion as he shared the story, revealing that his mother-in-law had died alone.

It came during a debate in the House of Commons on the latest accusation of lockdown rule breaking in 10 Downing Street.

It is alleged that the prime minister and his wife attended a "bring your own booze party" with around 40 others while the country was in lockdown.

Shannon started by asking whether the results of an investigation would be made public and struggled to finish his question. 

"In Northern Ireland, we reached a milestone of 3000 deaths due to COVID just last week - 3000 people who followed the rules... including my mother in law who died alone," he told cabinet office minister, Michael Ellis, before choking back tears. 

jim shannon
DUP MP Jim Shannon broke down in tears in a debate over reports of a lockdown party in Number 10. (parliamentlive.tv)

As the MP tried to gather himself, other MPs could be heard giving words of support, with one saying: "Keep going, Jim".

The moment was one of many uncomfortable ones for the prime minister, who wasn't in the chamber but sent his cabinet officer minister, Michael Ellis, to respond to questions from MPs instead.

Boris Johnson himself is under growing pressure amid reports he attended the party, which took place on 20 May last year, with his wife. 

On Monday, he dodged a question over his involvement in the alleged BYOB event, deferring to an ongoing investigation by senior official Sue Gray into numerous allegations of lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall.

Read more: Tory MP issues 'embarrassing' defence of Downing Street party: 'It doesn’t stack up'

In a leaked email published by ITV News, a senior Downing Street official invited more than 100 employees to a party in the No 10 garden.

It said: “Hi all, after what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden this evening.

“Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!”

UXBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with pupils in a maths class as he makes a constituency visit to Oakwood School on January 10, 2022 in Uxbridge, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson was reportedly among guests at a party at Number 10 during lockdown in May 2020. (PA Images)

At the time, members of the public were told they were only allowed to meet one other person not in their household outdoors.

Ellis also faced disgruntled MPs from his own party, with Conservative former minister Sir Christopher Chope claiming the civil service "must have known" about the party:

“Why can’t all the dirty linen be washed at once?" he said. 

"Why are we getting this drip, drip feed of parties?

“Surely the civil service must have known that there was a party on May 20 and they should have referred it already to the inquiry.”

Anti-lockdown MP, senior Conservative Sir Desmond Swayne, said: “All this should be a powerful corrective to the urge to order the rest of our lives, shouldn’t it?”

Read more: Boris Johnson can't lead country if he went to BYOB Downing Street party, says Miliband

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has fiercely condemned the prime minister over the party, and criticised him for not appearing in parliament to answer questions on the issue on Tuesday. 

"It is disappointing that the prime minister, of whom I asked this question, is not here today despite not having any official engagements," Rayner told MPs. 

"His absence speaks volumes, as does his smirks in the media, and I think the British public have already drawn their own conclusions."

Watch: 'PM's going nowhere', minister claims amid party backlash

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