Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologies over 2020 lockdown party as political storm builds

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LONDON (AP) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologized for attending a garden party during Britain’s coronavirus lockdown in 2020, saying there are things the government “didn’t do right.”

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Johnson is facing anger over claims from the public and politicians that he and his staff flouted pandemic restrictions by socializing on restrictions. Some members of his Conservative Party say he should resign if he cannot quell the uproar.

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Johnson admitted for the first time on Wednesday he was at a May 2020 garden party at his Downing Street office, though he said he considered it a work event.

Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons: “I want to apologize. … Looking back, I should have sent everyone back in.”

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The invitation to the “socially-distanced drinks” gathering was emailed to around 100 people by a senior aide of the prime minister. At that time people in Britain were prohibited by law from meeting more than one person outside their home.

Johnson has said before that he personally did not break any lockdown rules, but his difficulties are increasing.

The scandal, dubbed “Partygate”, has become the biggest crisis in Johnson’s two-and-a-half years in power. During the UK’s first lockdown, which began in March 2020 and lasted more than two months, almost all gatherings were banned.

Millions were cut off from friends and family, and even barred from visiting relatives who died in hospitals. Police fined thousands for breaking the ban on gatherings.

So there is widespread anger over claims that Johnson’s Conservative government flouted rules imposed in the rest of the country by holding garden parties, Christmas get-together and office quiz nights in Downing Street, which is the prime minister’s home and his home. Office is both. ,

Opposition leaders are calling for Johnson’s resignation. Of greater concern for the prime minister is that many members of his own party are concerned about Johnson’s decisions and leadership.

The Conservatives chose Johnson as leader in 2019 for his spirited manner and popular touch, and despite serial allegations of rule-bending and dishonesty that followed him during his twin careers as journalist and politician. The election proved right when he led the party to a major electoral victory in December that year.

But discontent over persistent pandemic restrictions is eroding support within the party, which some conservatives see as harsh. He is also facing unease about his decision after several financial and moral misconduct allegations against himself and his government.

The Conservatives have a history of ousting leaders if they become a liability – and a recent surprise defeat in a by-election for a district the party has held for more than a century.

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