British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted to attending a garden party at his Downing Street residence during a coronavirus lockdown in May 2020, in breach of his government’s own pandemic rules.
Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, the embattled PM apologised to the public for his actions but deflected opposition demands for his resignation.
“I know the rage they feel with me over the government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules,” he told the House of Commons during his weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session.
Johnson said he was regretful but had thought at the time that the May 20 gathering was a work event, an excuse that was roundly derided by critics on social media.
The prime minister said he had entered the Downing Street garden to thank his staff members before returning to his office 25 minutes later.
He said that in hindsight, he should have stopped the event from continuing.
About 40 people reportedly attended the party, including Johnson’s wife Carrie, after a senior aide emailed an invite to the “socially distanced drinks” gathering to about 100 people.
Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said Johnson’s statement was “the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road” and “offensive to the British public”.
“Will he accept that the party is over and decide to resign?” Starmer asked in Parliament.
Johnson, meanwhile, has rebuffed the call to step down and urged people to await the conclusions of an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray into several alleged lockdown-breaking parties held by government staff.