Boris Johnson admitted to attending a Downing Street Lawn gathering during the first shutdown and apologized to the nation, arguing it was a work event and “technically” did not violate the rules.
Labor leader Keir Starmer rejected Johnson’s version of events and called for the prime minister’s resignation. “The only question is: will the British public kick him out, will his party kick him out, or will he do the decent thing and resign?” Starmer said.
Starmer criticized Johnson as “a man without shame” and someone the public believed to be a liar, saying the prime minister was trying to shirk his responsibility.
In a highly anticipated and carefully worded statement just before the prime minister’s questions, Johnson acknowledged the massive public anger after an email surfaced inviting some 100 No. 10 employees to a socially distanced “bring your own drink” event. “on May 20, 2020 to enjoy the sunny weather. .
“Mr. President, I want to apologize,” he told a packed House of Commons. “I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices in the last 18 months. I know the anguish they have gone through, without being able to mourn their family members, without being able to live their life as they want or do the things they love ”.
He said: “I know the anger they feel with me and with the government that I lead, when they think that in Downing Street, the rules were not being followed properly by the people who make them.”
Johnson said that on the night in question he joined the event for about 25 minutes from around 6 p.m. and said that since Garden # 10 was used as “an office extension” in the middle of closing, he believed it was a work event.
“In hindsight, it should have sent everyone back inside,” Johnson added, while arguing that the event “technically could be said to be within the guidance” of the time.
Johnson said he accepted that many would disagree, adding: “To them, and to this house, I offer my sincere apologies.”
Johnson said it was important that Sue Gray, the senior official investigating the meeting and a series of other events that allegedly violated the blockade at No. 10 and elsewhere in government, be able to complete her report.
In the exchanges that followed the statement, Starmer ridiculed Johnson’s version of events, calling it “the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of his way.”
Starmer said that Johnson’s defense, “who did not realize he was at a party, is so ridiculous that it is actually offensive to the British public.” Starmer added: “He was finally forced to admit what everyone knew, that when the whole country was closed, he was throwing alcoholic parties in Downing Street. Now are you going to do the decent thing and quit? “
Accusing Johnson of “disparaging the British public,” Starmer asked why he did not resign for breaking or flouting the rules when others, such as former health secretary Matt Hancock and former No. 10 press secretary Allegra Stratton, had.
Attending the event was a clear violation of lockdown rules, Starmer said, adding that by assuring the House of Commons that he was not aware of such things, Johnson had violated ministerial code, seen as a reason to resign.
Johnson pretended to be “sick and angry” when evidence of the parties emerged, Starmer said, adding: “Now it turns out that he was at the parties all the time. Can’t the prime minister see why the British public thinks he is blatantly lying?
In response to the bombing, Johnson avoided his usual combative style in PMQs to apologize repeatedly, saying, “I accept that we should have done things differently that night.”
But he also urged Starmer to await Gray’s consultation and used his final answer to talk about his government’s track record in fighting COVID.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism