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PMQs: Johnson issues apology for lockdown party, amidst repeated calls to resign

PMQs: Johnson issues apology for lockdown party, amidst repeated calls to resign

An unusually sheepish prime minister issued an apology as his opening statement, before being hounded by calls to resign by members of the opposition parties.

After revelations emerged about a party alleged to have occurred in May 2020 in Downing Street, attended by around 30 people and apparently including the Prime Minister, accusations and demands that Johnson resign dominated the PMQs session.

"I want to apologise. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the anguish that they have been through. Unable to mourn their relatives. Unable to live their lives as they want, or to do the things that they love. And I know the rage they feel with me and with 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."

"Though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current enquiry, I have learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right. And I must take responsibility."

 

 

Johnson claimed that the garden in Downing Street was in frequent use by staff so that the open-air could diminish the likelihood of covid transmission. He said that:

"When I went into the garden... to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later, I believed implicitly that this was a work event." 

"I should have recognised that even if it could be said, technically, to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way."

"To them, and to this house, I offer my heartfelt apologies."

 

In response, Starmer, returning to the house after his covid isolation period, said:

"Well there we have it. After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who's run out of road. His defence, 'That he didn't realise he was at a party' is so ridiculous that it's actually offensive to the British public."

"While the whole country was locked down, he was hosting boozy parties in Downing Street. Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?"

"When the prime minister's former health secretary broke the rules, he resigned, and the prime minister said he was right to do so. When the prime minister's spokesperson laughed about the rules being broken, she resigned. Why does the prime minister still think that the rules don't apply to him?"

 

Ian Blackford, Leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, declared:

"The prime minister stands before us, accused of betraying the nation's trust. Of treating the public with contempt. Of breaking the laws set by his own government."

"Will the prime minister finally do the decent thing and resign? Or will his tory MPs be forced to show him the door?"

 

The Prime Minister repeatedly responded to the demands to resign by saying he regretted how things happened on that day, but that everyone should wait for the enquiry to be concluded before any further steps are taken.

It is being reported that the 1922 Committee, the backbench group of Conservatitve MPs who would hold the power to remove Johnson as leader of the party, are meeting this afternoon; it is understood, however, that this is coincidental and in no way tied to the future of Boris Johnson's leadership.

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