The Prime Minister made the admission during PMQs today (12 January) after an email was leaked showing that around 100 members of staff had been invited to “socially distanced drinks” in the garden of Number 10 at a time when the British public were banned from mixing with more that one other household outdoors.
The scandal has caused outrage across the house, with senior Conservative MPs and MSPs demanding that Mr Johnson resign as Prime Minister, including Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.
What did Boris Johnson admit to and apologise for?
The anger within the Conservative has been growing throughout the past few days, after ITV News leaked an email written from Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, inviting more than 100 members of staff to a “bring your own booze” gathering in the garden of Number 10.
The gathering took place on 20 May 2020, when the UK remained in the midst of the first Covid lockdown.
It is believed that around 40 members of staff attended, with claims that Ms Johnson and his then-fiance Carrie Symonds were among those in attendance.
Despite Mr Johnson or Downing Street confirming or denying that he and his now-wife were at the gathering, the Prime Minister admitted that he did attend, but was under the impression that the gathering as a “work event”.
Mr Johnson said that he had attended for 25 minutes to “thank groups of staff” adding: “With hindsight, I should’ve sent everyone back inside.”
Who has called on Boris Johnson to resign?
His admittance and apology has not been enough for some senior Tory politicians though, who have continued to call on his removal from the position.
The most notable is Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross.
Mr Ross, MSP for Elgin, had previously said that Mr Johnson should step down from his role if it was found that he did attend the gathering in question.
He reiterated his stance after the Prime Minister admitted that he attended, adding that Mr Johnson’s position was “no longer tenable”.
Mr Ross said that he had written to Mr Johnson on Wednesday afternoon to urged him to resign, adding: “I don’t think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives”.
His letter was backed by 19 other Tory MSPs, including former leader Jackson Carlaw.
MPs in Westminster have also called on the Prime Minister to resign.
Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, told PA News: “You don’t have bring-a-bottle work events in Downing Street, so far as I’m aware.
“I think the time has come for either the Prime Minister to go with dignity as his choice, or for the 1922 Committee to intervene.”
His comments were echoed by fellow Tory MPs, including William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove and vice-chairman of the 1922 committee.
He said: “A series of unforced errors are deeply damaging to the perception of the party.
“The Prime Minister’s position is untenable.”
Mr Wragg then criticised Mr Johnson for insisting that no decision on his position should be made until the findings of the internal investigation by Sue Gray were published.
He said: “I don’t believe it should be left to the findings of a civil servant to determine the future of the Prime Minister and indeed who governs this country. I think it is for the Conservative Party, if not the Prime Minister, in fact, to make that decision, and to realise what is in the best interest, so that we can move forward both as a party and a country.”
Who has backed the Prime Minister?
Despite calls across the board for his resignation, the Prime Minister has been backed by some senior ministers and colleagues.
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed that the Tory MPs calling for Mr Johnson to quit were “people who are always unhappy”.
He added: “They are people who have never really supported the Prime Minister, two of the ones you mentioned have always been quite strongly opposed to him, and therefore you would expect them to be relatively grumpy, and so that’s not surprising.”
“I think they are fundamentally mistaken and they are misjudging where we are and what the Prime Minister has succeeded in doing.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid deflected the calls for Mr Johnson’s resignation, saying: “I completely understand why people feel let down. The PM did the right thing by apologising.
“Now we need to let the investigation complete its work. We have so much to get on with including rolling out boosters, testing and antivirals – so we can live with Covid.”
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.