THE First Minister has said the “interests” of the UK would be improved if Boris Johnson resigned over allegations he attended a garden party in Downing Street during lockdown.

Nicola Sturgeon was asked for her verdict on whether or not the Prime Minister should resign in light of an email sent to around 100 Number 10 staff which told them to “bring their own booze” for an outdoor gathering during May 2020 - the height of the first lockdown.

The Prime Minister avoided scrutiny in the House of Commons earlier on Tuesday morning, when he refused to appear for an urgent question which Labour lodged demanding a statement on the allegations.

Instead, Johnson sent Paymaster General Michael Ellis to answer questions on his behalf.

READ MORE: Presiding Officer issues warning over Covid restriction 'leak'

Green MSP Gillian Mackay pointed out the impact that Johnson and Downing Street’s actions have on public health messaging.

She said: “The level of solidarity shown by the public in following guidance and laws has been impressive, it’s therefore absolutely sickening that once again it appears the Prime Minister and his inner circle have ignored the rules and tried to cover it up.

“This is undermining public confidence in following health advice, the public feels betrayed and the Prime Minister must go.

“Does the First Minister agree and what can we do to retain public confidence in current measures?”

The National:

Mackay asked the FM for her view on the garden party row and its impact on public health messaging

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone intervened after Mackay’s question, stating that questions must “focus on issues of devolved competence”.

The First Minister said: “Public health and the protection of public health is very much a devolved competence in my view Presiding Officer and it is the case that people across the country are aghast at the revelations about Downing Street’s conduct.

“It appears not just one isolated breach, but serial breaches of guidance that people were following through painful sacrifices, right throughout this pandemic, and a Prime Minister who apparently is not being truthful about his knowledge of these matters.

“I don’t think it will surprise anybody to hear my view that the office of Prime Minister would be greatly enhanced by Boris Johnson’s departure from it, but more importantly I think at this moment in time the interests of the United Kingdom would be enhanced by that as well.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the PM gave full backing to Martin Reynolds, his principal private secretary, who “continues in his role” despite inviting more than 100 employees to bring their own alcohol to a party in the Number 10 garden during covid restrictions.

The leaked email, which came to light on Monday, 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.

READ MORE: First Minister announces easing of Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland

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

Elsewhere, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called on the Tory party to “force” Johnson to stand down as he refuses to resign over the allegations.