UK Prime Minister has apologised to MPs and the country for allowing parties to go ahead in the Number 10 Downing Street garden.
Boris Johnson told the Commons: “I want to apologise. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months.
“There were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility.”
Johnson’s appearance at the House of Commons was being closely watched after an email was leaked to ITV news, which asked 100 staff at Downing Street to gather in the garden and “bring your own booze,” while national restrictions limited outdoor gatherings to two people.
“I know the anguish they have been through – unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love.”
Boris Johnson told the Commons: “With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside. I should have found some other way to thank them.
“I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there are millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way, people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden for meeting loved ones at all inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies.
“All I ask is that Sue Gray be allowed to complete her inquiry into that day and several others so that the full facts can be established.”
Boris Johnson told the Commons: “No 10 is a big department with a garden as an extension of the office which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus.
“When I went into that garden just after six on May 20, 2020, to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event.”
Meanwhile, leader of the opposition Labour Party Keir Starmer, who was returning to parliament following a period of self-isolation after contracting the coronavirus, described the apology “as so ridiculous it is actually offensive.”
“He has finally admitted that while the whole country was in lockdown he was hosting boozy parties in Downing Street,” Starmer responded. “Is he now going to do the honorable thing and resign?”