London, Jan 15 : Downing Street has apologised to Queen Elizabeth II for hosting two staff parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral in 2021, when Covid-19 rules barred indoor socialising.
“It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and Number 10 has apologised to the Palace,” a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on Friday.
The gatherings took place on April 16, 2021, and continued into the early hours, The Telegraph newspaper said in an exclusive report on Thursday night.
Johnson did not attend either party as he was not in Downing Street, where he both lives and works, on April 16, the spokesperson added.
The revelation came as reports about a string of lockdown-breaching gatherings organised by Downing Street officials over the past two years have enraged the British public and threatened Johnson’s premiership, Xinhua news agency reported.
On Wednesday, the UK Prime Minister apologised for attending a Downing Street garden party on May 20, 2020, during the country’s first lockdown. He said he believed it was a work event and stayed for only 25 minutes.
Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said Johnson’s excuse was “offensive” to the British public and called on him to resign.
The UK Prime Minister insisted that people should “wait” until Sue Gray, the senior civil servant tasked with investigating the reported parties in Downing Street, delivers her report.
Pressure has been mounting for Johnson to resign following the revelations.
A snap poll from Savanta ComRes found that 66 per cent of British adults thought the Prime Minister should step down, representing a 12-point increase on a previous poll. Another poll conducted by YouGov showed that 56 per cent of respondents believe that Johnson should step down, up from 48 per cent in a similar survey on November 22, 2021.
Support from Johnson’s own Conservative Party is also waning as several members have been openly critical, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross saying on Tuesday that Johnson must resign if he broke the lockdown rules with the garden party.