Boris Johnson confirmed Wednesday that he attended a garden party at 10 Downing Street in May 2020 in the midst of a coronavirus lockdown, for which there are growing calls for his resignation. Speaking in the House of Commons, the British prime minister offered "heartfelt apologies" after admitting he attended the BYOB party for 25 minutes to thank staff. He acknowledged the "rage" from those who've "made huge sacrifices throughout this pandemic," but he added the "work event," which his private secretary touted as "socially distanced," was "technically within the rules." However, CNN reports people at that time in the UK were barred from meeting with more than one person outdoors.
"I should have recognized that even if it could have been said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way," Johnson continued, per the BBC. "I regret the way the event ... was handled," he added, though he urged critics to wait for the outcome of an investigation. Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was only right that he resign, which is what happened to Johnson's former health secretary Matt Hancock, who was photographed in breach of social distancing guidelines, and former advisor Allegra Stratton, who was filmed joking about a 2020 Christmas Party at 10 Downing Street.
"His defense ... that he didn't realize he was at a party is so ridiculous that it's actually offensive to the British public," Starmer said. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey also called on Johnson to resign, telling the BBC that "he's actually now a threat to the health of the nation because no one will do anything he's said because he’s now shown to have been deceitful." Even members of Johnson's Conservative Party said the PM was on thin ice. "It sounds to me ... as though politically the prime minister is a dead man walking," MP Roger Gale said, per the Guardian. Before the apology, fellow Conservative MP Nigel Mills noted that "if the prime minister knowingly attended a party, I can't see how he can survive." (Read more Boris Johnson stories.)