Boris Johnson apologises for Downing Street party: ‘I believed that this was a work event’ - the best reactions

Boris Johnson issued an apology following the leaked email inviting 100 employees to “socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden” on 20 May 2020. He insisted that he thought the “bring your own booze” garden gathering “was a work event.”

The prime minister kicked off Wednesday’s PMQs with a tribute to Jack Dromey, the Labour MP who died this week, before saying he would like to apologise.

He said he ackowledged the public “rage” and claimed to have only stayed around for 25 minutes to “thank groups of staff.”

“I believed implicitly that this was a work event,” he stated.

“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 they love,” he said.

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“And I know the rage they feel with me, over 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 that there were things we simply did not get right.

“And I must take responsibility.”

“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 have been said technically to fall within the guidance – there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way.”

“I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there are millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way, people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden for meeting loved ones at all inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies.

Keir Starmer slammed Johnson’s apology, saying: “There we have it ... the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road.

“His defence, that he did not realise he was at a party, is offensive to the British public ...

“Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?”

People turned to Twitter to share their fury at his “shameless” attempt of an apology.

“Sounds like he thinks he just wandered into the garden into a surprise party,” one highlighted. “He authorised it. It was pre planned. Did he bring a bottle?”

While another joked: “I mean the government’s performance in 2020 makes a lot more sense if they were constantly bringing bottles of booze to work meetings.”

Senior civil servant, Sue Gray, has now been tasked with investigating the series of reported parties to determine what happened. Gray replaced Cabinet Secretary Simon Case as leader of the investigation amid reports that events were also held in his department.

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