Boris Johnson admits going to 'BYOB' Downing Street garden party

PM accused of "deceit and deception" after claiming he thought May 2020 party "was a work event"
Boris Johnson leaves No.10 Downing Street for Prime Minister's Question Time, where he admitted attending the May 2020 garden party. Photo: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

By Noa Hoffman

12 Jan 2022

Boris Johnson has apologised for attending a "BYOB" garden party that took place in Downing Street in May 2020 while strict lockdown restrictions were still in place.

In a statement delivered to the House of Commons before Prime Minister's Questions, Johnson said: "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 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.

"I have learned enough to know there are things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility."

The prime minister claimed that he "believed implicitly" that the garden party "was a work event", but "with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside". 

Taking to the despatch box to address a packed Commons benches, Labour leader Keir Starmer responded to Johnson's apology by accusing the PM of "deceit and deception".

"Well there we have it," he said.

"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: when the whole country was locked down he was hosting boozy parties in Downing Street."

When pressed by Starmer as to whether he "will he do the decent thing and resign", the prime minister replied that the opposition leader must wait until the findings of an inquiry into possible lockdown-breaching parties in No.10 has concluded. 

"He should study [the inquiry] for himself and I will certainly respond as appropriate, and I hope that he does," Johnson said.

"In the meantime, yes I certainly wish that things had happened differently on the evening of May 20, and I apologise for all the misjudgements that have been made, for which I take full responsibility."

Noa Hoffman is a reporter for CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared

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