By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been under fire due to an illegal lockdown party he attended with around 40 Downing Street staff in May 2020.
“I want to apologize”, he told the House of Commons during a questions session at the House of Commons on Wednesday but opposition parties were not happy or satisfied with the apology.
“I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months,” Johnson said.
“I know the anguish that they have been through, unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love.”
He said he knows “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.”
“And to them and to this house, I offer my heartfelt apologies.”
Johnson said he believed the occasion was a “work event” and he did not stay for long but this explanation was met with fierce calls for resignation from the opposition.
Urging Johnson to resign, Labour leader Keir Starmer described his apology as “ridiculous” and “offensive to the public,” whereas Scottish National Party leader in Westminster Ian Blackford also said the premier should resign.
Johnson met his party members at the House of Commons after taking more questions and criticism from lawmakers to ensure his apology was enough to satisfy his own party in a bid to calm the angry messages from the Tories.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called on Johnson to resign on Wednesday.
Speaking to STV News, Ross said: “I said yesterday if the prime minister attended this gathering, party, event, in Downing Street, on May 20, then he could not continue as prime minister.”
“So, regretfully, I have to say that his position is no longer tenable.”
Local reports suggest that around 25 MPs wrote to the party's 1922 Committee, a leadership decision-making mechanism, to initiate a vote of confidence. Such a vote can be triggered when the number reaches 54.
- Public reaction
“As far as I understand he has stood up in parliament and apologized. This means that he admits to a wrongdoing,” Ruth Fryer, a member of the public, told Anadolu Agency.
“Of course, he should resign but then, there's… is that actually going to help anything? Yeah, there's a whole load of them equally idiotic queuing up behind who are not going to be any better,” she said.
A protester who was rallying at a spot close to the parliament said the prime minister said the premier was caught lying.
“No, no, I don't know what that was … Was he there? Was there a party? Was he doing a business meeting?” Jeff asked, speaking to Anadolu Agency.
He said: “Did he stumble outside in his garden with a bottle of wine, trying to do a business meeting? Or was the Zoom background may be wrong in the business meeting? Or was he disguised in a party outfit?
“Now listen, it's all rubbish. But he's, he's lied for all. You know, Brexit was all a lie. Everything was a lie. So that's he is popular for lying. He got elected because he lied. You know, and there we go. So what's new breaking news Boris Johnson lied today? Well, it's nothing new is it's not breaking news, is it? He's doing it all the time. So they love it.”
Another protester, Louise Brown, said she could not see her sister when she was in intensive care at a time Boris Johnson was partying at Downing Street and refused to accept the apology.
“He's only been forced to apologize because he's been found out so he's sorry he got found out,” she said.
“I think that is the only thing he's sorry about,” she added.
Brown said: “He should have resigned from the other parties came out.
“But now you know, there's absolutely no doubt. You know, if you think this latest party was in May 2020; that's when single people living on their own, weren't even allowed to form social bubbles at that point, so they were literally stuck in on their own while he was out having parties.
“Never mind all the people who could go and see their relatives while they were in hospital; like my sister, was in hospital in intensive care and I couldn't go and visit her."
She said: “So it's extremely insulting that I abided by the rules and he, even in those horrible serious circumstances or family illness, and he decides (to have) a big laugh to go and have a party. So he definitely should resign. Yes.”