Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Boris Johnson tells Covid Inquiry he 'could not have done more' to stop Downing Street parties
7 December 2023, 14:31
Boris Johnson has told the Covid Inquiry that he "could not have done more" to stop parties from taking place at 10 Downing Street during the pandemic.
Listen to this article
"I think that the trouble was, as I said, that people were working extremely hard in tough circumstances," he told the inquiry.
"Could you have done more to stop it?" he was then asked.
The former prime minister replied: "Given what I knew at the time about what was going on, the answer to that is no."
Johnson then admitted he maybe could have told staff to be more "mindful of the rules and how things would appear".
Earlier in the day, Johnson apologised for any "offence caused" by Partygate and said he "takes full responsibility" for anything the government did.
"The version of events... is a million miles from the reality of what actually happened," he said.
The former PM emphasising that civil servants believed they were following the rules and he criticises "dramatic representations" of it as "absolutely absurd".
Johnson has repeatedly insisted that he thought the events were within the rules at the time.
This includes a birthday day party that took place inside 10 Downing Street, for which Johnson was fined for attending.
The then Chancellor Rishi Sunak was also fined.
Johnson was forced to defend his attendance at the Downing Street gatherings earlier in the year as a group of MPs decided whether he had misled Parliament when he said no parties had taken place.
Had he stuck around, Johnson would have faced a by-election in Uxbridge.
What have we learned on day two of Johnson at the Covid Inquiry?
Why were Covid regulations needed?
Covid regulations were needed because Brits needed to see other people following the rules if they were to do so themselves, Johnson said this morning.
Regional rules brought in to avoid circuit breaker
Johnson said he avoided a two-week circuit breaker lockdown in September 2020 because he thought regional regulations would be enough to stop the spread and therefore, the need for a second lockdown.
"The scientific advice was not clear, there was a push for a circuit breaker but that was not supported by the health secretary," he said.
Boris considered 'letting Covid rip'
Boris Johnson argued for letting the virus rip in meeting with chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.
His diary notes say he was "actually having a discussion about letting it rip", which Mr Johnson says it is what he would be expected to discuss at this point (June 2020).
Boris Johnson apologises for "offence caused" by Partygate and "takes full responsibility" for anything the government did.
"The version of events... is a million miles from the reality of what actually happened," he says, emphasising that civil servants believed they were following the rules and he criticises "dramatic representations" of it as "absolutely absurd".
Johnson admits Barnard Castle 'was a bad moment'
Johnson's former chief adviser Dominic Cummings said he had driven to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight so he could drive back to London - despite the country being in lockdown.
Johnson said that "it was a bad moment, I won't pretend otherwise".
Yesterday, Johnson admitted that he and the government made mistakes during the pandemic.
He apologised for all the "pain and loss and suffering", though four women held signs during his statement which read: "The dead can't hear your apologies".
Mr Johnson also said he was initially very convinced by the idea that the UK should not enter lockdown "too early".
These arguments were "made powerfully" and had a "big effect on me", the former prime minister added.