Boris Johnson says sorry after ‘partygate’ report released

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologises in the House of Commons for lockdown-flouting parties in Downing Street



Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street as he makes his way to the House of Commons. — AP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street as he makes his way to the House of Commons. — AP

By AP

Published: Mon 31 Jan 2022, 8:00 PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised on Monday for lockdown-flouting parties in Downing Street — but insisted that he and his government can be trusted.

Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons that he would make changes to the way the government is run in the wake of the “partygate” scandal.

He said: “I get it and I will fix it.”

He spoke after senior civil servant Sue Gray found that gatherings by the prime minister and his staff represent a “serious failure” to observe the standards expected of government.

Gray published findings on four gatherings in 2020 and 2021, and police are investigating a further dozen events.

“Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify,” Gray said.

ALSO READ:

Gray’s glimpse inside a 10 Downing St. marked by excessive alcohol consumption and staff afraid to speak out about workplace problems are a blow to Johnson — who has previously said the rules were followed at all times — and come despite the fact that Gray’s conclusions relate to just four of the 16 events she investigated.

Her findings on 12 other events in 2020 and 2021 have been withheld at the request of the police, who have launched a criminal investigation into the most serious alleged breaches of coronavirus rules. The cuts have led opponents to accuse Johnson of a whitewash.

Among the events under investigation by police are a June 2020 birthday party for Johnson in Downing Street and two gatherings held on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021.

Johnson has rebuffed calls to resign from opposition politicians and some of his own Conservative lawmakers.

But Johnson’s grip on power has been weakened by allegations that he and his staff flouted restrictions they imposed on the country in 2020 and 2021 to curb the spread of the coronavirus with “bring your own booze” office parties, birthday celebrations and “wine time Fridays.”

“The hardship under which citizens across the country worked, lived and sadly even died while observing the government’s regulations and guidance rigorously are known only too well,” Gray wrote.

“At times it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings.”

Opposition Labour Party lawmaker David Lammy tweeted: “During this crisis, our country needed a leader more than at any time since the Second World War. We didn’t get one. This report shows what we have known all along: The Prime Minister is a coward, a rule-breaker and needs to step down.”

Publication of Gray’s report was delayed when the Metropolitan Police force launched its own investigation last week into the most serious alleged breaches of coronavirus rules.

The force said it had asked for Gray’s report to make only “minimal reference” to the events being investigated by detectives “to avoid any prejudice to our investigation.”

Johnson’s opponents accused the government of trying to water down a report that could trigger an attempt to oust the prime minister by his own party. Some Conservative lawmakers said they would push for a no-confidence vote if Gray found Johnson was at serious fault.

Gray did not criticise the prime minister directly, but said “there is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across government”.


More news from