Boris Johnson is facing calls to resign from senior Tories after attending a drinks party while the country was in lockdown. He has apologized for not being more attentive to the unfolding events, but some are calling on him to step down as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson has been forced to do something no politician — or, for that matter, no prime minister —wants to do: “say sorry.” In a carefully worded statement, Johnson apologized for attending the alcohol-fueled gathering of up to 40 officials in May 2020, described as “socially distanced drinks.”
“I want to apologize. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the anguish they have been through – unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love”.
Witnesses claim that “excessive alcohol” was consumed, attendees danced to music past midnight, and a staff member filled up a suitcase of bottled wine from a local Co-op.
It is challenging to reconcile Johnson’s nice description with the actual events in his garden. Mr. Johnson said he had only been in the garden for 25 minutes and that he believed it was a work event. The explicit invitation to the gathering stated that it would be a chance for a socially distant drink and that over 100 people were requested to attend and were told to bring their own alcohol.
MP’s Reaction to Boris Johnson Apology
Several cabinet members publicly stated their support for the prime minister. Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, said that Johnson had been “right to personally apologize” since the event had “hurt and enraged individuals.”
“I haven’t seen such a half-hearted apology since my kid apologized for spilling all the milk,” said another MP.
Mr. Rees-Mogg, the chair of the Conservative Group in the European Parliament, said those pushing for Mr. Johnson to resign were “those who are always unhappy” and dismissed Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross as a “lightweight figure.”
According to Neil Wragg, the prime minister’s position is “untenable,” a backbench MP who chairs an influential select committee.
“I don’t believe it should be left to the findings of a civil servant to determine the future of the prime minister, as well as who governs this country.”
“The prime minister should step down now since he is damaging the entire Conservative brand,” said fellow Tory Caroline Nokes.
“I’m afraid he looks like a liability,” says former Minister Robert Peston. “And I believe he’ll go either now or in three years, at a general election.”
Neil Hudson, a Conservative MP, said Boris Johnson’s apology was “a step in the right direction,” but added, “I will not defend the indefensible.”
Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former most-senior aide and a fierce critic of his old boss, also weighed in on Twitter. He wrote: “Whole point of why other official & I told Mr. – WTF YOU DOING HOLDING A PARTY – was cos the invite = obviously TOTALLY SOCIAL NOT WORK (Unlike all the meetings in the garden). No way ‘technically within rules.’ [Shopping trolley] bullshit admit he broke the rules + resign”.
Before this latest outrage, a survey released on Tuesday found that two-thirds of the public (66 percent) thought the prime minister should go because of his involvement in the rule-breaking party.
It’s also unclear whether the Metropolitan Police will launch a formal inquiry into rule-breaking at 10 Downing Street. The force stated that it was “in touch” with the Cabinet Office over “alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at 10 Downing Street”.
Only five Tory MPs have confirmed that they have submitted a letter. Mr. Johnson’s supporters are adamant he is “not going anywhere,” with a government minister saying this week: “The prime minister has the confidence of the British people, as he did two years ago when he won the biggest majority in decades.”