Colum Eastwood brands Boris Johnson 'excuses' an insult to those who sacrificed

Colum Eastwood has described Boris Johnson’s excuses for attending a Downing Street garden party as ‘pathetic’ and an insult to everyone who made sacrifices during the pandemic.

The SDLP leader was speaking after Mr. Johnson confirmed he attended an event in the garden of 10 Downing Street during lockdown in May 2020.

Speaking from the House of Commons this afternoon, the Foyle MP said: “Boris Johnson’s excuses for attending a Downing Street knees up while people in our communities were dying, alone and afraid, are absolutely pathetic."

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In a statement in the House of Commons today Mr. Johnson said: "I want to apologise. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the anguish that they have been through, unable to mourn their relatives and unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love.

Colum Eastwood

"I know the rage they feel with me and with the Government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules."

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The British Prime Minister said that he could not anticipate the conclusions of senior civil servant Sue Gray's investigation into the alleged party but stated: "I have learned enough to know that there were things that we simply did not get right, and I must take responsibility. No. 10 is a big department, with the garden as an extension of the office, which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus.

"When I went into that garden just after 6 o’clock on 20 May 2020, to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event, but with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside.

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"I should have found some other way to thank them, and I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way—people who suffered terribly, people who were forbidden from meeting loved ones at all, inside or outside—and to them, and to this House, I offer my heartfelt apologies."

Mr. Eastwood said: “It is an insult to everyone who sacrificed the opportunity to be with sick loved ones, to say goodbye to friends and loved ones.

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“His behaviour has demeaned his office and his arrogance has shredded his authority. Remaining in office is about his ego rather than doing what’s right. If he won’t leave then he needs to be forced out by his party."