He’s Sorry Now: Boris Johnson Apologizes for Joining Lockdown Garden Party

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference to update the nation on the status of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the Downing Street briefing room in central London on January 4, 2022. - British hospitals have switched to a "war footing" due to staff shortages caused by …
JACK HILL/POOL/AFP via Getty

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ended a week of avoidance Wednesday and apologized for attending a garden party during Britain’s coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

Johnson acknowledged for the first time he joined the May 2020 garden party at his Downing Street office, though he said he had considered it a work event to thank his staff for their efforts.

“I want to apologize. … With hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside,” Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons, before adding there are things his government “did not get right.”

Johnson’s lunchtime appearance at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons was his first public showing since details of the party emerged. He spoke as critics from his own Conservatives and the opposition benches demanded answers.

AP reports after his apology, Johnson urged critics to await the conclusions of an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray into several alleged parties by government staff.

Opposition leader Keir Starmer would have none of it and went straight on the attack.

He said Johnson’s statement was “the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road.”

“His defence … that he didn’t realize he was at a party is so ridiculous that it’s actually offensive to the British public,” Starmer said. “He’s finally been forced to admit what everyone knew, that when the whole country was locked down he was hosting boozing parties in Downing Street. Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?”

Johnson’s attendance at the garden soiree came during the U.K.’s first lockdown, which began in March 2020 and lasted for more than two months, almost all gatherings were banned.

Millions of people were cut off from friends and family, and even barred from visiting dying relatives in hospitals. Thousands were fined by police for breaking the ban on gatherings.

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