Speed Reads

pour one out

Boris Johnson apologizes amid lockdown party scandal: 'I should have sent everyone back inside'

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized Wednesday for briefly attending a gathering in the back garden of 10 Downing Street in May 2020, despite strict COVID-19 restrictions at the time, CNN reports.

On Monday, it was revealed that Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds had invited over 100 Downing Street staffers to BYOB, "socially distanced" drinks on May 20, 2020. At the time, Britons were prohibited "from meeting with more than one other person outdoors, and would be legally punished for doing so," CNN reports.

Days of outrage soon ensued, with Johnson at first refusing to deny reports he and his wife were there.

On Wednesday, however, Johnson conceded that he did in fact attend the gathering he thought was a "work event" for 25 minutes before heading inside.

"I know that people up and down the country have made huge sacrifices throughout this pandemic," the prime minister acknowledged, "and I understand the anger, the rage that they feel at the thought that people in Downing Street were not following those rules. ... I bitterly regret it and wish that we could have done things differently."

"With hindsight," he said, "I should have sent everyone back inside."

Despite the apology, the prime minister has still found himself under increasing pressure to resign, even from members of own Conservative party, CNN reports. 

In December, Downing Street was rocked by yet another social scandal, this one concerning an alleged 2020 Christmas get-together. U.K. government official Allegra Stratton resigned amid backlash.

An investigation into the May 2020 party and other reported gatherings of government officials during U.K. lockdown is already underway, per NBC News.