BORIS Johnson today admitted he WAS at the No10 lockdown drinks party for nearly half an hour.
After 24 hours of chaos and questions over a lockdown-busting bash in May 2020, during the height of the first lockdown, the PM finally broke cover to issue a grovelling apology – and said he regretted not telling everyone to stop and go home.
But he insisted he personally did not do anything wrong.
The sombre PM said he did attend the event, which took place in his back garden and is said to have included booze and nibbles, at a time where people were only allowed to meet in pairs outdoors.
An email invite was sent out by the PM’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to more than 100 employees at No10, including advisors, speech-writers and door staff.
Less than an hour earlier, Minister Oliver Dowden had told the public at the daily press conference to stick to meeting in pairs outdoors.
BoJo told MPs of the event, where around 30 people are understood to have enjoyed a drink in the sun: “I certainly wish that things would have happened differently on the evening of May the 20th and I apologise for all the misjudgements that have been made, for which I take full responsibility.”
And he claimed he thought it was a “work event” and he had thanked groups of staff “before going back into my office 25 minutes later”.
He said that “with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside… I should have recognised that even if it did fall within the guidance, there would be millions of people who would simply not see it that way.”
The under-fire PM offered his “heartfelt apologies” but got a battering from Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer.
He branded “pathetic” and called on him to quit.
He said: “The British public think he’s lying through his teeth” and raged: “Why does the Prime Minister still think that the rules don’t apply to him?”
In a nightmare 24 hours for the PM:
- The PM gave a grovelling apology to MPs in the House of Commons at the weekly PMQs clash
- More than 16 Tory MPs broke ranks to publicly skewer the PM
- It emerged No10 staff joked about being spied on by drones as they drank gin
- Other backbenchers talked privately about removing their leader
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak escaped the showdown with a trip to Devon
Boris emerged this lunchtime to an onslaught coming from all sides – including enraged Tories already sharpening their knives and some saying they are ready to see him quit.
The PM was forced out of hiding for his weekly Commons duel at PMQs, where he was forced to fight for his political survival.
Before their clash the PM got on the front foot with a humbling statement addressing the fury.
Mr 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 anguish that they have been through, unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want to do the things they love.”
His premiership was plunged into crisis this week following bombshell revelations from his former aide Dominic Cummings about the boozy bash.
The sensational email invite sent by the PM’s PPS was revealed in full by ITV News.
A Whitehall probe from Sue Gray is currently looking at a string of similar bashes at the heart of No10 during repeated lockdowns.
Today the PM insisted that Westminster would have to wait for the outcome of the result before he would decide what to do next.
The Met Police are also looking into whether the law may have been broken at the bash.
Meanwhile, bookies slashed odds on the PM quitting.
Betfair have the PM 4/1 to quit this month, and it’s odds on he steps down in 2022.