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UK PM Apologizes for Partygate Scandal, Labor Calls Him “Man Without Shame”
By staff, Agencies
UK Prime Minister Boris has apologized for becoming the first British leader fined for breaking the law by attending a birthday party in Downing Street in 2020 while his own administration had enforced strict pandemic lockdowns, including restrictions on gatherings.
Addressing parliament for the first time since the April 12 fining, he repeated an assertion that he did not think he had done anything wrong though.
"That was my mistake and I apologize for it unreservedly," he said.
The British public "had a right to expect better of their prime minister," Johnson added.
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told MPs that Britons "don't believe a word the prime minister says," adding that he's a "man without shame."
"As the mealy-mouthed apology stumbles from one side of his mouth, more deflections and distortions come from the other," he said, "It's what he does. It's who he is. He knows he's dishonest and incapable of changing."
Tory MP Mark Harper called on the PM to quit over his "indefensible" actions.
If MPs vote for an inquiry, the privileges committee could recommend sanctions, including an apology, a suspension, or even expulsion from the Commons.
Asked directly by Tory MP Peter Bone if he had deliberately misled MPs in his past statements on the Downing Street parties, Johnson said, "No."
Last week, Johnson became the first sitting British prime minister to be fined for breaking the law when he was fined by the Metropolitan Police over the birthday gathering for him in No. 10 in June 2020.
As the police continue their investigation, the PM and others who partied in Downing Street during lockdown are widely expected to receive further fines.
But in his first Commons statement on his law-breaking, Johnson said that he wanted to get on with the job of "delivering on the priorities of the country at a difficult time."
"It did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the Cabinet Room just before a vital meeting on COVID strategy could amount to a breach of the rules," he told MPs. "I repeat that was my mistake and I apologize for it unreservedly."
"I respect the outcome of the police investigation, which is still underway, and I can only say that I will respect their decision-making and always take the appropriate steps," he added.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said that it was "profoundly damaging" to the UK to be "led by a man the public no longer trust and no longer have confidence in."
The British PM had already apologized for attending a party in the back garden of 10 Downing Street when the rest of the country was under a strict COVID-19 lockdown. On the date in question, schools were shut to most students, pubs and restaurants were closed, and there were strict controls on outdoor gatherings.
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