(LONDON) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced new calls for his resignation over a party he and his wife attended with Downing Street staff in May 2020, when the country was under lockdown.
Johnson apologized on Wednesday for attending the event, which he said he thought was a work meeting, although rules in the U.K. at the time said households could only meet with one other person in outdoor settings.
News that Johnson’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, had sent an email to more than100 staffers, telling them to make the most of the summer weather and “bring your own booze” was leaked to ITV News, the latest in a series of alleged breaches of lockdown rules by the prime minister’s team.
Late last year, it was reported that members of his staff had attended a Christmas party in 2020 in breach of lockdown conditions at the time. The prime minister’s former advisor was forced to resign after video was leaked where she could be seen joking about the alleged event.
Coronavirus survivors’ groups expressed their anger, and the opposition Labour Party effectively hammered home the message that under Johnson’s leadership, it’s been “one rule for them and another for everyone else.”
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson faced down furious calls to resign.
Johnson apologized for attending the party and called for patience as an internal investigation looked into the claims. His ruling Conservative Party holds a majority in the U.K. Parliament, but, after a host of scandals, some lawmakers may have begun to lose faith in Johnson’s authority to lead the country.
“I want to repeat that I thought it was a work event and, Mr. Speaker, I regret very much, I regret very much that we did not do things differently that evening … and I take responsibility and I apologize, Mr. Speaker,” Johnson said in Parliament Wednesday.
But the apology did little to wave off calls to resign from opposition politicians, with the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, describing Johnson’s apology as “worthless.”
“Well, there we have it,” Starmer said in a fiery exchange Wednesday. “After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road. His defense that he didn’t realize 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?”
As of yet, however, the prime minister remains in place. With a large majority in Parliament, whether or not he clings to power will depend on whether lawmakers within his own Conservative Party, many of whom are said to be disgruntled with his leadership, maintain their loyalty.
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