Boris Johnson apology: ‘the PM has apologised’ says Jacob Rees-Mog
In an article by German website Faz, titled “The party animal says ‘Sorry'”, the Prime Minister was mocked after he apologised to MPs in Parliament for participating in a drinks party at Number 10 during lockdown in May 2020.
Mr Johnson’s future is now hanging in the balance as Cabinet ministers pleaded with Tory MPs to wait for the findings of an official investigation into Downing Street parties before calling for him to quit.
Mr Johnson’s confirmation that he was at the event led to four Tory MPs publicly calling for him to quit, with more privately voicing concerns about his leadership.
The Prime Minister pulled out of a planned visit to a vaccination centre in Lancashire on Thursday, where he would have faced questions from the media about his actions, because a family member tested positive for coronavirus.
But writing for the German daily, political editor Peter Sturm bluntly said: “Denial was pointless. So Boris Johnson says he believed the May 2020 garden party was a work meeting. The fate of the prime minister is now in the hands of the Tory MPs.
Boris Johnson apologised for having a party in Downing St during lockdown
“A politician like Boris Johnson doesn’t apologise – unless he’s up to his neck. The British Prime Minister obviously saw himself in this situation on Wednesday, when he had to admit that – in disregard of the rules imposed by his government – he had attended a party in the garden of Downing Street in May 2020. At the same time the rest of the country remained in lockdown.
“According to Johnson, he believed the event was a work meeting. Now it is indeed possible to picture him working surrounded by booze. And it is very revealing that supporters say that as a resident of Downing Street he at least complied with the rule that one should only leave their home for an important reason.
“The political fate of the prime minister is now in the hands of the conservative parliamentarians.
“They might like him as a driving force during elections. But first of all, the next election is still a long way away, as far as anyone can judge.
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“Second, many in the party are less relaxed about virtues like honesty and decency than Johnson appears to be. He refers to an ongoing official investigation of the events.
“So he’s playing for time. But what else should he do, since resigning is even less an option than asking for forgiveness?!”
Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis urged people to wait for the outcome of an inquiry by senior civil servant Sue Gray into alleged lockdown-busting parties in No 10 and Whitehall before making judgments on the Prime Minister’s future.
“The Prime Minister has outlined that he doesn’t believe that he has done anything outside the rules. If you look at what the investigation finds, people will be able to take their own view of that at the time,” he said.
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Boris Johnson is being urged to resign by some Tory MPs
Cabinet ministers rallied round to defend Mr Johnson, but the late interventions of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Chancellor Rishi Sunak – both tipped as potential successors – did little to instil confidence in his future.
While Mr Johnson endured a difficult session of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Sunak had notably spent the day away from London on a visit in Devon.
But Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Lewis told Sky News: “I have seen Rishi working with the Prime Minister. They work absolutely hand-in-hand. I know that Rishi has got support for the Prime Minister.”
Mr Lewis insisted Mr Johnson was the right person to be Prime Minister and “I think we will be able to go forward and win a general election”.
Mr Johnson faced open revolt from one wing of his party, as Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross urged him to quit, with almost all Tory MSPs supporting the call.
Mr Ross was dismissed as a “lightweight figure” by Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg following his intervention.
In Westminster, three other Tory MPs said Mr Johnson should go – Sir Roger Gale, former minister Caroline Nokes and chairman of the Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee William Wragg.
In the Commons on Wednesday the Prime Minister said he recognised “with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside” instead of spending 25 minutes in the No 10 garden thanking staff for their work on May 20 2020.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg