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Gloucestershire Business News

Resign calls as PM apologises over attending lockdown party

Boris Johnson has admitted he attended a drinks party at No 10 during the first lockdown, saying he was there for 25 minutes.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions this lunchtime, he offered a "heartfelt apology" but says he believed it was a work event

The PM faced repeated calls to resign from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and other MPs.

The Prime Minister said he went into the garden of Downing Street on 20 May 2020 to thank staff before going back into his office 25 minutes later. He said in hindsight he should have sent everyone back inside and should have found some other way to thank staff.

He said he should have recognised that even if it could be seen as technically inside the guidance there would be millions who would not see it that way.

The PM ended his statement by offering his "heartfelt apologies" to the House and to those who were not able to see loved ones at the time.

He has asked that the senior civil servant Sue Gray be able to complete her inquiry into the drinks party and others so the facts can be known.

The PM said that though he cannot anticipate the conclusions of the inquiry into parties at Downing Street he knows there are things "we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility".

With the PM's admission that he did attend a drinks party in the Downing Street garden, Sir Keir accused him of "months of deceit and deception".

It is the "pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road," he said, urging the PM to "do the decent thing and resign".

Sir Keir noted that ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock resigned when he broke the rules as did his former adviser Allegra Stratton when she a video emerged of her joking about a party

"Why does he think the rules do not apply to him?," he asked.

Boris Johnson repeated his apology and told the Labour leader: "I think it would be better if he waits for the inquiry to conclude."

Mr Johnson added that he knew people up and down the country made huge sacrifices and he understood "the anger, the rage they feel".

Mr Johnson said the Labour leader was paid to try to remove him from office but he should wait until the inquiry is concluded and study it for himself.

The PM said he will respond to the investigation as appropriate and in the meantime he wishes things had happened differently on the evening of 20 May and takes full responsibility.

The SNP's leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said the Downing Street drinks party was an event that shouldn't have taken place and broke the law.

He said trust has been lost and the public will not forgive and forget. The Tory backbenchers must act to remove the PM, he said.

Mr Johnson said most people looking objectively at what the government had delivered over the last 18 months would agree that he shows contrition for the mistakes that have been made.

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