Boris Johnson
Johnson, pictured last year, admitted being at a lockdown-busting party at No 10 (photo: 10 Downing Street via Creative Commons)

A Greenwich Conservative councillor has broken ranks to call on Boris Johnson to resign after the prime minister admitted attending a party at 10 Downing Street while social gatherings were banned.

Johnson told MPs this afternoon that he was sorry for attending the party, which was held on May 20, 2020 while England was under strict lockdown rules to fight the coronavirus.

The prime minister said that he believed he was at a work event, admitting there were “things we simply didn’t get right” and adding that he “regrets very much that we did not do things differently that evening”. He offered his “heartfelt apologies” to the House of Commons and to people who were not able to see loved ones at the time.

Johnson’s performance did not impress Matt Clare, a Conservative councillor for Eltham South, who tweeted: “Pathetic non-apology from Johnson. An insult to everyone who made massive sacrifices. Not fit to be in public life. Time to go. Preferably today.”

His local party leader and Eltham South ward colleague, Nigel Fletcher, stopped short of demanding Johnson’s resignation, but told 853: “It’s not my job to make excuses for Number 10, and the prime minister was right to apologise today for letting people down.

“It is clearly a matter of public confidence that those who make the rules and all those who hold public office should abide by the spirit and letter of the law.

“When so many of us across the country have made such massive sacrifices, we expect those in power to be held to a higher standard. Anyone who falls short should at the very least apologise unreservedly, and those who are found to have broken the law should of course face serious consequences.”

“Can’t the prime minister see why the British public think he is lying through his teeth?” asks Sir Keir Starmer

PM says he accepts “we should’ve done things differently on that evening”#PMQs

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 12, 2022

ITV News revealed on Monday that Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, had sent an email to about 100 people inviting them to a “bring your own booze” event in the Downing Street garden.

At the time, police were handing out fines to people gathering in parks. More locally, the statue of General Wolfe in Greenwich Park had been fenced off to stop people gathering to look at the view, while playgrounds and skate parks were locked up.

Parts of Greenwich Park were fenced off on the day of the No 10 party (photo taken on May 18, 2020)

Just a few days after Johnson’s bash, Fletcher called on the prime minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings to quit after his own breach of lockdown rules.

He said Cummings’ actions in taking his family from London to Durham while his wife had coronavirus symptoms were “a personal insult to us all”.

It was a revelation in Cummings’ newsletter that led to the ITV News scoop on Monday.

Greenwich & Woolwich Labour MP Matt Pennycook also called on Johnson to go, tweeting: “With the country in lockdown, a senior No 10 official organises “drinks” in the Downing Street garden and invites staff to bring their own booze. Boris Johnson attends yet is asking the public to accept he thought it was just a work event. Enough of the deceit. Resign.”

Help 853 continue reporting on public interest issues in Greenwich and southeast London – we are the only outlet regularly producing original journalism in the borough, and we can only do it with your funding.

Please join over 100 donors who use Steady, PressPatron or Patreon to give a little towards our costs every month. The money pays the bills, a wage for the editor and pays others to write for the site.

You can also buy the editor a coffee at Thank you.