Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted today that he attended a party in the garden at 10 Downing Street in May 2020, during a lockdown. 100 people were invited, with the invitations coming from the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary, who described the event as “socially distanced drinks”.
The Prime Minister claims he attended for 25 minutes. He has apologised to Parliament for “things we simply did not get right”, but maintains that he believed the party was a “work event”.
“I know the rage [the public] feel with me and 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…
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.” — Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Sue Gray, a senior public servant, is now investigating the party. The Prime Minister has indicated he will wait until the inquiry is complete before making a further statement. But three senior MPs in his own party have called for him to resign, including the Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. Ross says he will write to the party organising committee to register his lack of confidence. If 54 Conservative MPs do this, it will trigger a leadership challenge.
William Wragg, a backbencher, has called the Prime Minister’s position “untenable”. Caroline Nokes, a backbencher and former minister, says he is “damaging the entire Conservative brand”. Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer called the Prime Minister’s apology “so ridiculous that it’s actually offensive to the British public”.
Other senior Conservatives have expressed support for the Prime Minister, including Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who said he believed the Prime Minister had “given a very clear account”. But Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s Political Editor, says that behind the scenes MPs are “discussing frantically how and when his exit could take place”. “It’s over”, said one Minister.