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UK’s Johnson apologizes, says steps will be taken to ‘learn’ from ‘partygate’ probe

Associated Press / Ian Vogler

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologized after a long-awaited report on gatherings held at government property amid the COVID-19 pandemic found multiple “failures of leadership and judgment.”

“I want to say sorry … I understand the anger that people feel. We must look at ourselves in the mirror and we must learn,” Johnson told the United Kingdom’s House of Commons on Monday, The Associated Press reported.

Johnson vowed to learn lessons from the incident and said “it’s no use saying that this or that was within the rules. I understand the anger that people feel.”

The report released Monday from longtime British civil servant Sue Gray found the British government gave “little thought” to the situation in the U.K. at the time.

Johnson has denied personal wrongdoing and refused calls to resign. He remained bullish on Monday in the face of opposition from lawmakers and tried to pivot the conversation to his government’s response to the pandemic and Brexit.

“I get it, and I will fix it,” Johnson said.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May, who is a member of Johnson’s Conservative Party, voiced criticism over the gathering at No. 10 Downing St. and said “what the Gray report does show is that No. 10 Downing St. was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public.”

May added that Johnson “imposed significant restrictions on freedoms” of British citizens. “They had a right to expect their prime minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules,” she said.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer renewed calls for Johnson’s resignation and said “the prime minister took us all for fools.”

“He held people’s sacrifice in contempt. He showed himself unfit for office,” he added, according to the AP.

Gray, who was put in charge of probing the breaches, said she investigated 16 events on 12 different days. 

She wrote in her report that “it seems there was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public.”

Tags Boris Johnson Theresa May

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