PMQs RECAP: Boris Johnson issues apology as pressure mounts over Covid lockdown party
Boris Johnson is set to face MPs in a battle to save his premiership over allegations about a “bring your own booze” party in the No 10 garden in an apparent breach of Covid lockdown rules.
The Prime Minister will make his first public appearance since the leak on Monday of an email from his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, inviting Downing Street staff to the gathering in May 2020 to “make the most of the lovely weather”.
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PMQs LIVE: Boris Johnson to face scrutiny from MPs as pressure mounts over Downing Street party
Last updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2022, 12:34
Boris Johnson starts PMQs by issuing an apology.
He says he know the rage members of the public feel with him and the rules not being followed.
He says: “I want to apologise....millions of people have made extraordinary sacrifices...unable to mourn their relatives..I know the rage they feel with me and with the government I lead, when they think that in Downing St itself the rules aren’t being followed.”
In his apology the PM admits attending lockdown-breaching Downing Street party for 25 minutes on 20 May 2020.
The PM adds “With hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside, found some other way to thank them. I should have recognised that even if it did fall within guidance, there would be millions of people who would simply not see it that way”
Boris Johnson told the Commons: “I know the rage they feel with me and with the Government I lead when they think in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.
“And though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility.”
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.”
Sir Keir Starmer calls for Boris Johnson to resign. He calls for the PM to “do the decent thing and resign” branding the apology“pretty worthless.
He brands the PM “A pathetic spectacle of a man who has run of road. Is defence that he didn’t realise he was at a party is so ridiculous it is actually offensive. Will he do the decent thing and resign”
Sir Keir Starmer is not holding his punches.
He hits out at the PM: “There we have it, after months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road. His defence that he didn’t realise he was at a party is so ridiculous that it is actually offensive to the public”
“The party is over Prime Minister” says Keir Starmer as he once again calls for the PM to resign.
He adds Johnson has misled parliament, which is in breach of the rules. Will his party kick him out or will the public kick him out?
Boris Johnson doing what many expected and falling back on the enquiry.
He says Starmer is paid to try to get him out of office adding that he should wait for the Gray report. He once again apologises for the mistakes made.
In full - a sample of some of the exchanges from Sir Keir Starmer and the PM
Sir Keir said: “There we have it. After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has 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.
“He’s finally been forced to admit what everyone knew, that when the whole country was locked down he was hosting boozing parties in Downing Street. Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?”
Boris Johnson said: “I appreciate the point that he’s making about the event that I attended. I want to repeat that I thought it was a work event and I regret very much that we did not do things differently that evening.
“I take responsibility and I apologise. But as for his political point, I don’t think that he should pre-empt the outcome of the inquiry. He will have a further opportunity, I hope, to question me as soon as possible.”