Boris Johnson apologises for "bring your own booze" party - but says he thought it was a 'work event'

By Dan O'Donoghue

Boris Johnson has apologised for a "bring your own booze" party held in the Number 10 garden during the height of lockdown last year, telling MPs he "believed implicitly that this was a work event.”

The Prime Minister said he understood the public's "rage" after a leaked email from his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, revealed Downing Street staff had been invited to a gathering in May 2020 to “make the most of the lovely weather”.

Mr Johnson confirmed he was present at the event for "25 minutes" to “thank groups of staff”.

Read more: 'It makes me feel sick': Bereaved families slam Boris Johnson for 'partying in Downing Street' as their loved ones were dying alone

“I believed implicitly that this was a work event,” he said.

But he said “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 have been said technically to fall within the guidance – there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on the Prime Minister "to do the decent thing and resign”.

He said: “There we have it. After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has 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 the decent thing and resign?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I appreciate the point that he’s making about the event that I attended. I want to repeat that I thought it was a work event and I regret very much that we did not do things differently that evening.

“I take responsibility and I apologise. But as for his political point, I don’t think that he should pre-empt the outcome of the inquiry. He will have a further opportunity, I hope, to question me as soon as possible.”

Sir Keir shot back: “Why does the Prime Minister still think that the rules don’t apply to him?”

He said: “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’s 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?”

Mr Johnson responded: “That’s not what I’ve said and I understand the point that he makes, as I’ve said 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 are brought before this House and he will have an opportunity to put his points again.”

Get more news, sport and what's on by subscribing to the Manchester Evening News' free email newsletters here.

What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.