Johnson apologized, but did not admit to wrongdoing. He was trying to calm a storm of anger from politicians and the public over allegations that he and his staff had repeatedly ignored pandemic restrictions and socialized when it was banned.
The "partygate” scandal could be a turning point for a leader who has been through many other storms. Johnson's Conservative Party members said that Johnson must resign for violating the rules.
Douglas Ross, leader of the party’s Scottish wing, stated that Johnson's "position" is "no longer tenable" and that he "cannot continue as leader of Conservatives."
Johnson admitted Wednesday for the first time that he attended a May 2020 party at Downing Street, but said that it was a work event that he wanted to thank his staff for their hard work during the pandemic.
Johnson said that he was sorry to lawmakers during the Prime Minister's Questions session at the House of Commons. "With hindsight I should have sent everyone inside."
A senior prime ministerial adviser sent an invitation to 100 government employees to bring their own alcohol to a "socially distant drinks" gathering. Johnson's office claims he didn't receive it.
Both Johnson's opponents and his allies have demanded Johnson tell the truth about the party that was held in the midst of a ban on Britons meeting more than one person outside of their homes to stop the spread the coronavirus. Millions were cut off from their families and friends and barred from visiting sick relatives.
Johnson stated that he understood the anger of those who had made "extraordinary sacrifices" over the past 18-months. However, he did not explicitly admit to breaking any rules and suggested that the gathering may have been technically within the guidelines.
Johnson previously stated that he and his staff abided by the rules at all costs.
COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice members said Johnson's apology was not enough to them.
Hannah Brady, whose father was killed in May 2020, charged Johnson with adding salt to the wounds of people who had already suffered so much from this pandemic.
She said, "If restrictions are necessary to protect future lives, people will just laugh at him." He has no moral authority, and will endanger lives.
Keir Starmer, leader of Opposition Labour Party, said that the British public believed Johnson was "lying through their teeth."
Johnson urged people instead to wait for the results of an investigation by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant into several alleged government employees. Gray, a veteran of public service with a reputation for being a straight-shooter is expected to report before the end the month.
Johnson didn't say what Johnson would do if Gray was found to be at fault.
This finding could increase the likelihood of Conservatives calling for a vote of no confidence in their leader. A vote of confidence can be held if requested by 15% of Conservative lawmakers. It would be passed by the party, and a new leader would be elected, who would then take over as prime minster.
Johnson's Wednesday admission was made amid mounting problems. Johnson already faces accusations that his Conservative government has flouted pandemic regulations at other times by hosting garden gatherings and Christmas get-togethers in Downing Street. Downing Street is also Johnson's office and home. Johnson is also being investigated for financial and ethical misconduct.
Johnson was accused by a number of opposition lawmakers of lying, lawbreaking and debasing the office.
Johnson can ignore criticisms from the opposition -- just as he did during previous scandals -- because his Conservatives hold an 80-seat majority within the House of Commons. Worse, for Johnson, many of his party members are becoming more concerned about his leadership and judgment.
Johnson was chosen by the Conservatives to be their leader for 2019. This is despite his numerous allegations of rule-bending, dishonesty and other misconduct that have plagued him throughout his dual careers as a journalist and politician. He led the party to a major election win in December of that year, which seemed to vindicate his choice.
However, discontent about the ongoing pandemic restrictions that some Conservatives consider draconian and the growing list of scandals is threatening the party's support. Now, the question is whether "partygate", as some have called it, might be too much.
Conservatives are known for ousting leaders when they become a liability. Their jitters have increased after a surprising loss in a special elections for a district that the party has held for over a century.
Christopher Chope, a veteran Conservative legislator, said Johnson's apology helped to reassure the party.
He said, "I believe this apology has bought sometime, and we'll see what happens."
Roger Gale, another senior Conservative lawmaker was a resounding supporter of Ross.
He said, "Politically, the prime minister of Poland is a dead man walking."