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Boris Johnson has apologised for attending a "bring your own booze" party in Downing Street during the first Covid lockdown.
Ahead of Prime Minister's Questions, he told MPs he had attended the gathering, held in the No 10 garden on 20 May 2020, for 25 minutes.
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He asked for senior official Sue Gray, who is investigating that and other events in government buildings, to be allowed to complete her inquiry.
Here is his full statement to MPs, made on Wednesday 12 January 2021.
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 do the things they love.
And I know the rage they feel with me and 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 there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility.
No 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 2020, to thank groups of 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 were forbidden from meeting loved ones at all, inside or outside.
And to them and to this House [of Commons], 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. And I will of course come back to this House and make a statement.
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