Boris Johnson ‘acknowledges hurt and the anger’ as he apologises 35 times in less than two hours
The Prime Minister apologised 35 times in less than two hours during his first appearance in the Commons after being fined over a Downing Street party.
Boris Johnson apologised twice in his opening statement, and repeated the apology to 33 MPs who questioned him about partygate.
The Prime Minister told MPs in his opening speech: “Let me begin in all humility by saying that on April 12 I received a fixed penalty notice relating to an event in Downing Street on the 19th of June, 2020.
“I paid the fine immediately, and I offered the British people a full apology.
“I take this opportunity on the first available sitting day to repeat my wholehearted apology to the House as soon as I received the notice, I acknowledge the hurt and the anger.”
He later said: “I repeat that was my mistake, and I apologise for it unreservedly.”
Responding to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister said: “I apologise once again, profusely to John Robinson, and to all those who lost loved ones, particularly those who suffered during the pandemic.”
He repeated in the same response: “I renew my apologies, I renew my apologies to John Robinson, to families up and down the land.”
Addressing Conservative MP Sir William Cash, he repeated: “I am heartily sorry for my mistake.”
Responding to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Mr Johnson said: “I apologise profusely for my mistake and for what I have got wrong and I repeat that.”
Replying to Tory MP John Whittingdale, he said: “I repeat my apologies, my contrition.”
To Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge, Mr Johnson said: “I made a serious mistake and I apologise for it very sincerely.”
He later told Conservative former chief whip Mark Harper: “I bitterly regret the event in Downing Street, as I’ve said, but I do believe that it is the job of this Government to get on with the priorities of the British people and that is what we’re going to do.”
Replying to Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, he said: “I repeat my apology to the House and to the country.”
He later told Conservative MP Jake Berry: “I in no way minimise the importance of the fine I have received and I apologise wholeheartedly.”
Addressing Labour MP Mick Whitley, he said: “I repeat my apology.”
Speaking to Labour’s Mohammad Yasin, Mr Johnson repeated: “I apologise profusely again particularly to all those who lost loved ones, and I know how painful it has been.”
When addressed by Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Prime Minister said: “I renew my apologies.”
Replying to Labour’s Dame Angela Eagle, he reiterated: “All I can say is that I apologise for what I got wrong.”
To Conservative former minister Steve Baker, Mr Johnson said: “I am heartily sorry as I have said.
“I wish it had not happened.
“And I wish, I wish that things had been totally different. What I have already done, as the House will know, is taken steps to change the way we do things in Number 10.
“But that in itself is is not enough. I accept full responsibility for myself and for my actions.”
Addressing Labour’s Alex Cunningham about his bereaved constituent Jason Green, he said: “I apologise again to, not just to Jason, but to the families of all those who lost loved ones during Covid.”
Speaking to Labour MP Jess Phillips he said: “I apologise for the fine I received, but I can’t comment about any hypothetical situations.”
Responding to Paul Howell, Tory MP for Sedgefield, in Stockton-on-Tees, he said: “I understand the frustration and the anger of his constituents in Sedgefield and I understand perfectly how they are feeling. I renew my apologies to them.”
Speaking to Labour MP Justin Madders he said: “I apologise very sincerely.”
Addressing Chi Onwurah, Labour, Mr Johnson said: “I apologise heartily for what I got wrong.”
Speaking to Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft, who mentioned the death of her former tutor during lockdown, he said: “I’m very sorry for her loss and for the loss to all the pupils that she mentioned.”
Answering Debbie Abrahams, for Labour, Mr Johnson said: “I want to repeat what I said earlier on, which is I think that there couldn’t be a clearer expression of the robustness of our democracy that all of us must be held to account.
“I’ve been held to account and I apologise very sincerely.”
Responding to Labour’s Matt Western, he said: “I apologise and I thank the public very much for what they did.”
Addressing Labour’s Stephen Timms, he said again: “I apologise.”
He told SNP MP Pete Wishart: “I repeat what I’ve said earlier on, I apologise and I direct the honourable gentleman to my earlier statement.”
Responding to Labour’s Mike Amesbury he said: “Let me repeat my apologies for what I got wrong and what went wrong in Downing Street. And also my explanation for why I have spoken as I have in this house.”
Speaking to Alison Thewliss of the SNP, he said: “I understand the pain that they must feel, the anger that they must feel. And I repeat my apologies.”
He told Labour’s Paula Barker: “All I can do is renew and repeat the apologies that I’ve given to her constituents, whether they accept them or not.”
Mr Johnson also apologised in responses to six other MPs.
What has Boris Johnson said about Downing Street parties?
In the latest development in the partygate scandal, Boris Johnson has been told to resign by senior Conservative MP Mark Harper for breaking coronavirus laws.
Mr Johnson faced MPs in the Commons on Tuesday, where he insisted he did not intentionally mislead Parliament with his earlier denials of rule-breaking parties.
This came after he was handed a fixed penalty notice by the Metropolitan Police over the parties, and is understood to have been present at six of at least 12 events being investigated.
Here is what the Prime Minister has said over each claim which have been made.
May 15 2020: Garden party at Downing Street (cheese and wine)
In December 2021, a photo emerged showing Boris and Carrie Johnson, former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and Mr Johnson’s then principal private secretary Martin Reynolds sitting around a table in the No 10 garden during the first national lockdown.
Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 20 2021: “Those were meetings of people at work. This is where I live and it’s where I work. Those were meetings of people at work, talking about work.”
May 20 2020: Garden party at Downing Street (BYOB)
An email, leaked to ITV, from Mr Reynolds to more than 100 Downing Street employees, asked them to “bring your own booze” to an evening gathering.
The Prime Minister admitted attending for 25 minutes but insisted he thought the gathering was a work event, while No 10 said Mr Johnson did not know about the event beforehand.
But his former chief aide Dominic Cummings said this was not true, and he had warned it was against the rules.
Mr Johnson said during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in north London: “I want to begin by repeating my apologies to everybody for the misjudgments that I’ve made, that we may have made in No 10 and beyond, whether in Downing Street or throughout the pandemic.
“Nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules, that the event in question was something that… was not a work event, and as I said in the House of Commons, when I went out into that garden I thought that I was attending a work event.”
On February 20 2022 he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “You’re just going to have to wait until the process (police investigation) is complete – there is literally not a bean I can tell you about that, as much as I would like to.”
June 19 2020: A surprise birthday party held for the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room at Number 10.
Mr Johnson said on April 12 2022 that he had paid a fixed penalty notice in relation to a breach of coronavirus rules.
He said it was “a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes”.
Mr Johnson said “it didn’t occur to me” that it was a breach of the rules but added: “I now humbly accept that I was.”
Addressing the House as it returned from its Easter recess on April 19, Mr Johnson apologised for the “mistake”.
He added: “Let me also say, not by way of mitigation or excuse but purely because it explains my previous words in this House, that it did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the Cabinet Room just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules.”
Facing shouts of “resign”, Mr Johnson added: “I repeat that was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly.”
November 13 2020: Leaving party for senior aide and the Johnsons’ flat party
According to reports at the time, Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Lee Cain, his departing director of communications and close ally of Mr Cummings.
There were also allegations the Prime Minister’s then fiancee, now wife, hosted parties in the couple’s flat at No 11, with one such event said to have taken place on November 13 2020, the night Mr Cummings departed No 10.
Mr Johnson told the Commons on December 8 2021: “I’m sure that, whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”
It was then reported in February 2022 that PM had been seen heading up to his flat on the night in question. The Prime Minister repeatedly refused to say if he was there.
December 15 2020: Downing Street quiz
The Sunday Mirror published an image in December 2021 showing the Prime Minister flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in No 10 the previous year.
Downing Street admitted Mr Johnson “briefly” attended the quiz after photographic evidence emerged, but insisted it was a virtual event.
In an interview on December 13 2021, the Prime Minister said: “I can tell you that I certainly broke no rules – the whole thing will be looked into by the Cabinet Secretary, and what I’m focused on, frankly, is the vaccine rollout.”
On February 9 2022, at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Mr Johnson was challenged by Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who said the image appeared to show “one of the Christmas parties he told us never happened”.
He added: “Will the Prime Minister be referring this party to the police as it is not one of the ones currently being investigated?”
Mr Johnson responded: “In what he has just said, I’m afraid he is completely in error.”
Challenged again during PMQs, Mr Johnson added: “That event already has been submitted for investigation.”
December 18 2020: Christmas party at Downing Street
According to reports which first emerged at the end of November 2021, officials and advisers made speeches, enjoyed a cheese board, drank together and exchanged secret Santa gifts – although the Prime Minister is not thought to have attended.
Mr Johnson said in an interview on December 7 2021: “I have satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times.”
He said in the House of Commons the next day: “I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken. That is what I have been repeatedly assured.”
The Prime Minister added: “I apologise for the impression that has been given that staff in Downing Street take this less than seriously. I am sickened myself and furious about that, but I repeat what I have said to him: I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken.”
April 16 2021: Leaving parties on the night before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
The Telegraph reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on April 16 2021, as the country was in mourning after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
One was for former Downing Street director of communications James Slack and the second for a photographer, and they were later reported to have merged.
The newspaper said No 10 staff partied until the early hours of the morning in a seven-hour drinking session.
Wine and spirits with mixers were said to have been served in disposable plastic cups, and at one point alcohol was reportedly spilled on an office printer.
Takeaway pizzas were reported to have been ordered in and some of the revellers were said to have used a slide belonging to Mr and Mrs Johnson’s son, Wilfred.
The following day the Queen sat alone, socially distanced from her family, as she said goodbye to her husband.
No 10 previously said an apology had been extended to Buckingham Palace.
Mr Johnson said: “I deeply and bitterly regret that that happened.”
He added: “I can only renew my apologies both to Her Majesty and to the country for misjudgments that were made, and for which I take full responsibility.”
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