As the Partygate scandal unfolded, Johnson’s strong denials in the press and parliament evolved into contrition and apologies.
Here’s a reminder of what Johnson has said, and how it changed.
‘All guidance was followed completely in Number 10’
In parliament on December 1, days after the Mirror reported he made a speech at a leaving party in November 2020 and let a party on 18 December go ahead, Johnson was insistent all rules were followed.
“All guidance was followed completely in Number 10,” was his retort to Keir Starmer.
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‘I have been repeatedly assured that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken’
A week later, ITV News published a tape of Johnson aide Allegra Stratton joking about parties in Number 10. Stratton tearfully resigned, and the next day Johnson apologised “for the offence” but insisted no rules had been broken.
“I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures, and I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules because I was also furious to see that clip,” Johnson said on December 8.
“I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it has caused up and down the country, and I apologise for the impression that it gives.
“But I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, and that is what I have been repeatedly assured.”
‘I certainly broke no rules’
As the Mirror published pictures of Johnson taking part in a Downing Street quiz, the Prime Minister insisted he had followed the rules.
On December 13 he told TV cameras: “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.”
‘I want to apologise’
After the Christmas break, Johnson was forced to apologise when it emerged he had attended a “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden.
“I want to apologise. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months,” he said on January 12.
He went on: “I know the rage they feel with me and with the government I lead when they think in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.
“And though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility.
Johnson added: “With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside. I should have found some other way to thank them.
“I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there are millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way, people who have suffered terribly, people who were forbidden for meeting loved ones at all inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies.
‘I renew my apologies to Her Majesty, and I take full responsibility’
After reports that Downing Street staff partied the day before the Queen had to sit on her own at Prince Philip’s funeral, Johnson was forced to extend his apologies to the monarch.
“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,” he said on January 18.
By January 26, with the Sue Gray investigation in full flow, Johnson was pleading the fifth, batting away questions from Keir Starmer at PMQs.
Responding to a question from Starmer, Johnson said: “There is simply no way that I can comment on the investigation that he is referencing.”
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‘I get it and I will fix it’
Sue Gray’s report was published – in part – on January 31. It damned failures of leadership, and confirmed police were investigating an alleged party in Johnson’s Number 10 flat.
In response, Johnson issued another apology, telling MPs: “I get it and I will fix it.”