UK prime minister, Boris Johnson has categorically denied he was warned a drinks party in the garden of No 10 would break lockdown rules.
Johnson is facing calls to resign over allegations he disobeyed lockdown rules by partying with staff at Number 10 when the UK was under strict lockdown rules last year.
Johnson’s former aide, Dominic Cummings revealed he warned Johnson at the time that the party could break lockdown rules, and has accused him of misleading MPs (lawmakers) about it.
Senior civil servant, Sue Gray is due to publish a report into alleged Covid rule breaking at lockdown get-togethers in Downing Street and government departments .
Asked if he would resign if he was found to have misled MPs, Mr Johnson said: “Let’s see what the report says.”
“Nobody warned me that it was against the rules,” the prime minister said, adding: “I would have remembered that.”
As criticism continues to mount, Johnson also made a public apology to Queen Elizabeth over the No 10 parties that occurred on the eve of her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April last year.
Appearing to be distressed as he was quizzed about the parties, he said: “I deeply and bitterly regret that that happened.
“I can only renew my apologies both to Her Majesty and to the country for misjudgements that were made, and for which I take full responsibility.”
This comes after Downing Street on Friday, January 14, apologised to Buckingham Palace over the two staff parties – which were not attended by Johnson on 16 April, 2021.
The following day, the Queen sat alone socially distanced from her family as she mourned her husband.
In his blog, Dominic Cummings, who was still working in Downing Street at the time of the drinks party on 20 May 2020, claimed the PM had shoved aside his warnings.
Cummings said the idea that a senior aide the PM’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds – would not have checked with Johnson, after he was warned his invitation to drinks in the Number 10 garden broke the rules, “is not credible”.
Two other former Downing Street officials told the BBC they remembered Cummings telling them on that day he had advised the prime minister not to allow the drinks party to go ahead.
Asked about Cummings’ claims, Johnson said:
“I can tell you categorically that nobody said that this was something that was against the rules, that was in breach of the Covid rules.”
In his interview, Johnson repeated the apology he made to MPs last week for “mistakes” made over the May 2020 get-together.
“As I said in the House of Commons, when I went out into that garden I thought that I was attending a work event.”
He said he had not seen the email sent by Reynolds inviting staff to “socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden”.
“I only saw it the other day. I only saw it when it emerged,” said the PM.
“What I remember is going out into that garden for a short time and for 25 minutes thanking staff who’d worked on Covid, who were continuing to work on Covid, and then going back to office.
“If I had my time again, I would not have allowed things to develop in that way.”
Asked if he had lied to Parliament over the parties, he said: “No. I want to begin by repeating my apologies to everybody for the misjudgements that I’ve made, that we may have made in No 10 and beyond, whether in Downing Street or throughout the pandemic.”