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Boris Johnson apologizes for 2020 party during COVID-19 lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street on Wednesday. He apologized for a 2020 party during COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street on Wednesday. He apologized for a 2020 party during COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized Wednesday for attending a party in 2020 during the country's lockdown while calls by his opponents to resign grew louder.

Johnson issued the apology just before prime minister questions, addressing an email that was made public about his staff attending a social event on May 20, 2020. The country was on COVID-19 pandemic lockdown at the time, requiring the public to avoid such events.

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"Mr. Speaker, I want to apologize," Johnson said in the House of Commons, according to The Guardian. "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.

"I know the rage they feel with me, and with the government I lead, when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules were not being properly followed by the people who make the rules."

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He said he initially believed the gathering was part of a work event that fell within health guidance, but he now realizes the optics.

"With hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside," Johnson said. "To them, and to this house, I offer my heartfelt apology."

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Johnson's critics in Parliament piled on with Labor leader Keir Starmer telling the prime minister that the "party is over" and he should resign if his party or the public does not remove him first.

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Scottish National Party Parliament member Ian Blackford said Johnston has betrayed "the national trust" and broke coronavirus rules he himself set.

Labor PM Karl Turner said hosting a party at that point of the pandemic was an "unimaginable decision" to make and Johnson was only sorry "because he got caught."

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