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‘He is alone on this one’: Fury at Boris Johnson excuses after PMQs showdown

Boris Johnson said he thought the BYOB party in his own garden was a work meeting. The public, MPs and journalists didn’t buy it

Boris Johnson has ignited a new wave of public fury after sidestepping responsibility for parties held at Downing Street during lockdown.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, he apologised to MPs and the public as he admitted a pre-planned, bring-your-own-booze party was held in the Downing Street garden in May 2020.

But he claimed he “implicitly” believed it was a work meeting and that he thought it was within the same rules set by his own government, and left after 25 minutes.

Johnson’s weak excuses were widely mocked online.

Actor and director David Schneider said: “Boris Johnson must be furious with Boris Johnson for admitting he was indeed at a party that Boris Johnson has said didn’t even happen.”

Others highlighted the nonsensical suggestion that the prime minister had been unclear about the nature of the gathering planned for in the grounds of his own home.

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Piers Morgan accused Johnson of “more pathetic lies that negate any sincerity with his apology”.

The fury from within the prime minister’s own party has been palpable in recent days, with Tory MPs suggesting Johnson must resign if he is found to have lied.

Onlookers noted the apparent drop in support as evidenced from the prime minister’s own benches.

“Tory MPs barely cheered after Boris Johnson’s semi-mea culpa,” said the Daily Telegraph’s Christopher Hope.

“There was a telling moment when Keir Starmer said people will think he was ‘lying through his teeth’.

“The PM looked at the Speaker to intervene on unparliamentary language. The Speaker refused.

“He is alone on this one.”

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle had defended Starmer’s comment as being “what the public think“.

The Spectator’s James Forsyth noticed Johnson’s isolation in Commons too.

“Perhaps most worrying for Boris Johnson is how silent the Tory benches have been during this PMQs,” he said.

Speaking on the BBC, Labour’s shadow minister for employment Alison McGovern called for Johnson’s resignation, adding: “Actions speak louder than words.

“Does he have a sense of his own dignity?

“What does he expect? That other people should take responsibility for their own actions but he doesn’t have to? Is that really the situation we’re in?”

Even hardline Conservative supporters including commentator Emily Hewertson indicated they were not buying the prime minister’s claims.

“For the first time in PMQs history, I’m cheering Keir Starmer on,” she wrote.

An unofficial parody account for Number 10’s resident pet Larry responded to the Commons showdown.

“Wanted: New housemate for Westminster based feline,” they wrote. “Recently decorated house includes excellent security, lightly used office space and large garden, suitable for hosting parties.”

Journalist and TV presenter Andrew Neil said it was “quite hard to argue that a bring your own booze invitation was a work event rather than a party”.

It’s expected the prime minister will face continued pressure over the scandal – from across the political spectrum – in the coming days, while political commentators debate his future – after the controversy placed the most significant question mark over his job so far in his tenure.

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