London, Jan 12 (EFE).- Britain’s prime minister Boris Jonhson on Wednesday offered his “heart-felt apologies” for attending a social gathering in the Downing Street garden on 20 May 2020 when the rest of the country was in the grip of Covid-19 restrictions.
“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 the lives that they want of do the things that they love,” the prime minister told MPs at Parliament.
“I must take responsibility.”
Johnson said that he had gone into the garden of Downing Street to thank staff before going back into his office 25 minutes later.
“I believed implicitly that this was a work event,” he said.
But the UK press alleges that at least 40 people attended the garden party, where they had food and drinks, at the prime minister’s official residence.
“I know the rage they feel with me, and with the government I lead, when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.
“I have learned enough to know that there are things we simply did not get right,” Johnson said.
Once again the allegations have provided ammunition to Johnson’s political foes and sparked a backlash from the general public which at that stage of the pandemic was ordered to abide by tough restrictions on social life, separating them from friends and family during the first Covid lockdown.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed in a statement that it was in contact with the Cabinet Office over the allegations amid wider calls for a police investigation into the events.
An internal inquiry, led by senior civil servant Sue Gray, is already probing the list of parties allegedly held at Downing Street despite lockdown rules.
This internal procedure will be extended to the latest accusations, which surfaced when an email from Johnson’s secretary Martin Reynolds, inviting around 100 government staff to a B.Y.O.B (‘Bring Your Own Booze’) gathering, was published by ITV News.
Eye-witnesses told the BBC that Johnson and his wife Carrie were present at the event, although the prime minister has yet to comment on the matter.
At the time of the alleged party, UK citizens were only allowed to meet up with one person from another household outside, maintaining a social distance of two meters. EFE