Boris Johnson resists call to resign, apologizes for garden party held during lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ignored demands for his resignation as he apologized on Wednesday for attending a May 2020 party during Britain’s first lockdown.

A “socially distanced drinking” gathering was held in May 2020 at Johnson’s Downing Street office, which is also his home. He believed that the garden party is a work event to thank the employees for their efforts during the pandemic. However, Johnson’s office says he had not received a “bring your own wine” invitation emailed by a senior prime minister aide to about 100 government employees.

The point is that the Downing Street Garden Party took place at a time when millions of people were not able to see family and friends, even they were not allowed to visit hospitalized relatives who were dying. Meanwhile, Johnson violated his government’s rules imposed on the public by joining the party.

Johnson apologized for the first time on Wednesday, admitting to attending the event for the first time.

During the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons, he said, “I want to apologise. … In retrospect, I should have sent everyone back in.”

Johnson did not admit he had done anything wrong in his apology, prompting anger from the public and politicians alike, who accused him and his staff of ignoring pandemic restrictions by socializing during a lockdown, Where no gathering was allowed. He explicitly did not admit to breaking any rules, but did say that he and his staff always followed the rules.

Johnson said he understood the anger of those who have made “extraordinary sacrifices over the past 18 months … thinking the people of Downing Street are not abiding by those rules.”

Johnson continues to face unease following allegations of financial and immoral misconduct against himself and his government. On Wednesday, several members of the opposition party accused the prime minister of lying, breaking the law and maligning his office.

Leader of the opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, said he thought the British public thought Johnson was “lying with his teeth.”

Johnson’s conservatives have an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons; However, his own party is concerned about his decision and leadership.

While Johnson did not resign on Wednesday, members of his Conservative Party are saying he should resign if he breaks the rules. However, Johnson claims he did not know he was at a party.

“How stupid does the Prime Minister think the British people are?” Labor lawmaker Christ Bryant asked.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is currently investigating alleged parties organized by government employees, for which Johnson urged people to wait for the findings in the report. He said Gray would give “full facts” in his expected report, which will be released at the end of the month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized this week for attending a garden party during the lockdown in May 2020, but ignored calls for his resignation. In the picture, Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister’s Questions in London on January 12, 2022.
Leon Neal / Getty Images

Conservatives chose Johnson as leader in 2019 for his spirited manner and popular touch, despite serial allegations of rule-bending and dishonesty that followed him during his twin careers as journalist and politician. The election proved right when he led the party to a major electoral victory in December that year.

But support inside the party is being undermined by discontent over continuing pandemic restrictions, which some conservatives see as harsh and growing list scandals. Now the question is whether “Partygate” could be a far-fetched scam.

The Conservatives have a history of ousting leaders if they become a liability – and a recent surprise defeat in a special election for a district the party has held for more than a century.

Veteran Conservative legislator Christopher Chop said Johnson’s apology helped reassure the party.

“I think this apology has taken some time, and we’ll see what happens,” he said.

But Roger Gale, another senior Conservative MP, said Johnson had “misled the House” with a previous denial of going to the party.

“Politically the prime minister is walking a dead man,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.