Allegra Stratton has resigned as a government adviser after video footage emerged of her joking about an illicit Christmas party just days after at least one party is known to have taken place at Downing Street.
Boris Johnson will hope that Stratton’s exit draws a line under the row. He is now face, however, with a somewhat perverse (and surely unsustainable) situation in which the only person to resign in connection with the party is the person who, in the offending clip, clearly says she “went home”.
Labour will hope that now that the principle has been established that joking about the party is a resignation-worthy offence, anyone found to have actually attended it, or any other lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street, has to do the same thing. If Stratton has gone, why not Ed Oldfield, who kicked off the joke? Why not the whole guest list of the offending party?
The Conservatives will hope that ultimately, like most industries, the media loves to talk about itself, and that the resignation of Stratton – who worked with Newsnight, the Guardian and ITV over the course of a long and successful career before entering politics – will trigger an introspective debate about the media and communications, allowing the government to “move on” from the row.
Looming over the whole thing, of course, is the Omicron variant and whatever future mutations of Covid-19 do to the battle against the disease. The one thing that is guaranteed to cause the story of Downing Street’s Christmas parties to run and run is if the government feels that it has to once more ban large-scale social gatherings, in order to buy time and slow the spread of Covid-19.