Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, is facing calls to quit after apologizing on January 12 for attending an alcoholic garden party at 10 Downing Street during the country’s first pandemic lockdown.
The UK leader’s disclosure aroused outrage among the public, as many people were unable to leave their homes during that time, or even see loved ones or family members, as the UK adhered to tight covid-19 regulations.
Johnson admitting to attending a meeting in Downing Street’s garden on May 20, 2020, at the commencement of weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament. He stated;
“Mr Speaker, 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 do the things 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.
“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. Number 10 is a big department with the garden as an extension of the office – which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus. And when I went into that garden just after six on the 20th of May 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.
“But, Mr Speaker, with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside, I should have found some other way to thank them and 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. People who suffered terribly – people who were forbidden from meeting loved ones at all, inside or outside. And to them and to this house I offer my heartfelt apologies. And 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.”
Following Johnson’s apology, opposition leader Keir Starmer labeled him “a man without shame” and claimed his argument that he didn’t realize the gathering was a party was “so absurd that it is disgusting to the British public.”
Starmer, along with other members of his Labour Party, and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, both called for the prime minister to quit.
“The party is over, prime minister,” Starmer said, calling Johnson a “pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road.”
When the former health secretary disregarded the rules, he resigned, and when the prime minister’s spokeswoman joked about it, they both resigned, according to the Labour leader. “What makes the prime minister believe the rules don’t apply to him?”
There are issues inside Johnson’s own party as well.
Douglas Ross, the head of the Scottish Conservatives, claimed Johnson would be unable to continue as prime minister if it was discovered that he had attended the lockdown party.
The news follows a slew of other scandals involving Johnson, including the government’s handling of the pandemic, the granting of lucrative contracts, and the renovation of Johnson’s flat.
Johnson had stated that he “broke no regulations” by attending the lockdown gatherings and that he would not comment on the topic until an internal inquiry into the parties was completed on Wednesday, January 12.