At the start of the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session, Johnson said he attended the meeting for 25 minutes before going to work. He said he thought the gathering was a business event, but in hindsight admitted he should have brought the attendees back inside.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer said the British prime minister’s argument that he “didn’t realize he was at a party” was “ridiculous” and “offensive”.
“Here we go: after months of deception and deception, the pathetic sight of a man running out of the way,” Starmer said. The Labor leader went on asking if the prime minister would resign.
The email, which CNN independently confirmed, asked guests to “bring their own drink” and “make the most of the beautiful weather.”
Johnson had refused to deny reports that he and his wife, Carrie Johnson, would attend the event. He said he would not comment further, as there was an ongoing investigation into the parties in Downing Street.
If a government minister violates the ministerial law, he is expected to resign from his job.
Members of Johnson’s Conservative Party have already come out in force, with the Scottish Conservative leader saying Johnson should resign if he happened to attend these drinks.
The May 20 allegations come after a series of scandals that specifically question Johnson’s suitability for the job. The scandals range from trying to reform the rules to prevent one of his Conservative allies – who had breached lobbying rules – from being suspended from Parliament, to handing over lucrative Covid-19 contracts to people closely associated with the Conservative Party.
Ahead of Christmas, stories emerged of the many drink parties that took place in Downing Street during various stages of the lockdown in the UK. The surprising allegations have weighed on Johnson’s poll ratings, and as of this week a majority of British citizens believe that if Johnson does indeed attend the drinks gala on May 20, he should resign as prime minister.
In a separate slap for Johnson on Wednesday, the High Court in London ruled that his government had acted illegally in 2020 when it rushed to speed up contracts for personal protective equipment to politically connected suppliers.
The case, brought by the non-profit organizations Good Law Project and EveryDoctor, challenged nine government contracts worth more than £500 million ($684 million), awarded to pest control firm PestFix and hedge fund Ayanda Capital between April and May 2020.
The court ruled that it was awarded on a “flawed” basis, concluding that “there is evidence that the opportunities were treated as high priority even in the absence of objectively justified grounds for expediting the bid”.
The judge found that although Pestfix and Ayanda had received unlawful preferential treatment, they would likely have been awarded the contracts anyway.
CNN’s Amy Cassidy contributed to this report.