Boris Johnson statement: PM’s apology over Downing Street party, in full

Boris Johnson has apologised for attending a "bring your own booze" gathering in the garden of No 10 during England’s first lockdown as he battled to save his premiership.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the public "rage" over the incident but insisted he thought it could have been technically within the rules, confirming for the first time he had attended. 

Standing opposite him at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer branded him the "man with no shame", and echoed calls around the chamber calling for the Tory party leader to resign. 

Here is the Prime Minister’s apology in full:

Mr Speaker, I want to apologise. 

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. 

And I know the rage they feel with me or with 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. 

Number 10 is a big department with the garden as an extension of the office, which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus. 

And when I went into that garden, just after six on the 20th of May, 202, to thank groups and staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later, to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event.

But Mr Speaker, 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 be said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way. 

People who suffered terribly, people who are forbidden from meeting loved ones at all, inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies. 

And all I ask is that Sue Gray be allowed to complete her inquiry into that day and several others so that the full facts can be established.

What followed was a fiery exchange between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition, during which the Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle had to interject a number of times. 

Sir Keir Starmer

Well, there we have it. After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who’s run out of road.

His defence, that he didn’t realise he was at a party, is so ridiculous that it’s actually offensive to the British public. 

He’s finally been forced to admit what everyone knew that when the whole country was locked down, he was hosting boozy parties in Downing Street. 

Is he now going to do but decent thing and resign?

Sir Lindsay Hoyle  

(After loud cheers and jeers and a shout of "Matt Hancock went") I think somebody will be going for an early cup of tea as well. 

Can I just say the question’s been asked. I want to know the answer. Your constituents want to know the answer – and I don’t need any extra help either – so please, Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson 

Well, Mr Speaker, I appreciate the point that he’s making about the event that I attended. 

I want to I want to repeat that I thought it was a work event and Mr Speaker, I regret very much that we did not do things differently that evening. 

Mr Speaker, as I said, and I take responsibility and I apologise, Mr. Speaker, but as for as for his his political point, I don’t think that he should preempt the outcome of the inquiry.

He will have he will have a further opportunity, Mr Speaker, I hope to question me as soon as possible.

Sir Keir Starmer

Well, that apology was pretty worthless wasn’t it?

Let me tell him why this matters. Yesterday, in this chamber, honourable members told heart wrenching stories about the sacrifices people across the country were making. 

This House and the whole country were moved by the honourable member for Strangford as he talked about his mother-in-law dying alone. 

He was following the rules whilst the Prime Minister was parting in Downing Street.

Is the prime minister really so contemptuous of the British public that he thinks he could just ride this out?

Boris Johnson

Unknown Mr. Speaker, I heard the testimony of the honourable member opposite and I share I echo his his sentiments it was it was deeply moving. Nobody who heard that could fail to have been moved. And I know that people up and down the country have made huge sacrifices throughout this pandemic. Mr. Speaker and I understand the anger the rage that they feel the thought that the people in Downing Street We’re not following those rules. I regret. I regret the way the event I have described was handled I bitterly regret. We wish that we could have done things differently than I have and will continue to apologise for what we did for Mr. Speaker. He must wait for the inquiry which will report as soon as possible. Unknown Mr. Speaker when the Prime Minister’s former Health Secretary broke the rules, he resigned and the Prime Minister said he was right to do so. When the Prime Minister spokesperson laughed about the rules being broken, she resigned and the Prime Minister accepted that resignation. Why does the Prime Minister still think that the rules don’t apply to him? Unknown Mr. Speaker That’s not what I’ve said. And I understand I understand the point that he that he makes. i As I’ve said Mr. Speaker, I regret the way things happened on the evening in question, and I apologise but if I may say to him, I do think it would be better if he waited until the full conclusion of the inquiry until the full facts were brought before this house business bigger and he will then have an opportunity to put his points again. Unknown This just isn’t working Prime Minister, everyone could see what happened. It started with reports of boozy parties in Downing Street during lockdown the Prime Minister pretended that had been assured there were no parties. How that fits with the feds I do not know. Send the video landed, blowing the prime minister’s first defence out of the water. So then he pretended he pretended he was sickened and furious about 40s. Now it turns out, he was at the parties all along, called the Prime Minister see why the British public thinks he’s lying through his teeth Unknown it was the public thing. Nobody remembers saying this. And I certainly don’t need any help problem here. If somebody wants to help me, they can help someone else. Prime Minister. Unknown Mr. Speaker, it’s up to the Right Honourable gentleman to choose how he conducts himself in this place. I save him I say to him that he’s wrong. He’s wrong in what he said. He said what he is wrong in what you said is wrong in several key respects. For Mr. Speaker that does not detract from the the basic point that I want to make today, which, which is I accept that we should have done things differently on that evening, as I as I said to the house, I believe that the events in question were within the guidance and work within the rules and that was certainly the assumption on which I operated but can I say to him as a speaker that he should wait? He should wait before he jumps to conclusions? Because a lawyer should respect the afternoon. I hope that he will wait until the facts are established and brought to this house Unknown is Stahma. Mr. Speaker So we’ve got the Prime Minister attending Downing Street parties, a clear breach of the rules. We’ve got the Prime Minister putting for this series of ridiculous denials, which he knows run through a clear breach of the ministerial code. That code says ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation. The party’s over Prime Minister The only question is will the British public kick him out? Will his party kick him out? Or will he do the decent thing and resign Unknown Mr. Speaker I just want to repeat that I think would be Right Honourable gentleman. I know that is his objective and he’s paid to try to remove me from office. This is big and I appreciate that. And I accept that. I humbly suggest to him that he should he should wait until the inquiry has concluded. He should study it for himself. And I will certainly respond as appropriate. And I hope that he does. But in the meantime. Yes, Mr. Speaker, I certainly wish that things had happened differently on the evening of May the 20th. Mr. Speaker, and I apologise for all the Miss judgments that have been made for which I take Mr. Speaker full responsibility Unknown Kesava Unknown Prime Minister’s a man without shame. The public one answers to their questions. Hannah braid his father Sean was just 55 when he lost his life to COVID he was a fit and healthy key worker I spoke to Hannah last night Prime Minister. Her father died just days before the drinks trolley was being wheeled through Downing Street. And last year, had met the prime minister in the Downing Street garden. She looked at the prime minister in the eye and told him of her loss. The Primus told hammer had done everything he could to protect her dad. Looking back what kind of told me last night was this she realises that the Prime Minister had partied in that same garden the very day had dead had dad’s death certificate was signed. What Hannah wants to know is this. Does the Prime Minister understand why it makes her feel sick? To think about the way that he’s behaved? Unknown I speak to I sympathise deeply with, with Hannah with people who have suffered up or down in this country during the pandemic and I repeat that I wish things had been done differently. On that evening, Mr. Speaker, and I repeat my apology for all the misjudgments that may have been made that were made on my watch in number 10 and across a government but I want to reassure the people of this country including Hannah and and her family, that Mr. Speaker We have been working to do everything we can to protect her and her family. And it is thanks to the efforts of this government that we have the most tested population in Europe. 1.2 5 million tests being conducted every day. We’ve been working to ensure that this population, our country has the most antivirals of any country in Europe. And Mr. Speaker, it’s because of the efforts of the government officials have staff up and down way to be driven the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, one of the fastest in the world. And that is the reason, Mr. Speaker that we now have one of the most open economies if not the most open economy in Europe, and one of the fastest growing economy in the g7. Mr. Speaker, whatever the mistakes that have been made on my watch, which I apologise and we try and fully acknowledge that is the work of Mr. Speaker that has been going on in number 10 Downing Street  

 

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