- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2022

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized Wednesday to Parliament for attending a drinking party at Downing Street in May 2020 while the country was under COVID-19 lockdown orders.

Mr. Johnson said he felt the open-air event was technically within compliance, but he should have told everyone to disperse, given the anguish being felt around the country over the virus and related restrictions.

“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,” Mr. Johnson said, referring to the home base for his government.

It was the first time the prime minister acknowledged his attendance at the event, according to the BBC, which said Mr. Johnson had been waiting for the results of an inquiry into the 30-person event.

Some say the incident is a threat to his leadership. Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said Mr. Johnson should “do the decent thing and resign.”

Mr. Johnson, in explaining himself to Parliament, said the garden at No. 10 Downing Street is an extension of formal offices and “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,” said the prime minister, who heads the Conservative Party.

“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 recognized 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.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide