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Opinion: Boris Johnson's PMQs 'BYOB' Downing Street garden party excuse had more holes than Emmental

It was not quite in the realm of 'the dog ate my homework' but the Prime Minister’s account of the now infamous Downing Street gathering had as many holes as a slice of Emmental cheese.

The multiple apologies he offered MPs and the public was in stark contrast to his refusals to express any contrition up until today, when he was forced to answer that question and several others.

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It's been a very hard week for Boris Johnson Picture: Phil Noble/PA
It's been a very hard week for Boris Johnson Picture: Phil Noble/PA

His apologies were heavily qualified - and his account of the gathering lacked a degree of conviction. Apparently the Downing Street garden was used as an office extension and the PM mistakenly thought work was going on, amid the chatter and clinking of glasses and canapes.

True, he admitted that the government had got things wrong and he understood the anger and anguish of the public - something he could have said on many occasions prior to today.

He responded to questions about whether the gathering breached Covid restrictions in force at the time by urging MPs to wait for the publication of the independent investigation.

This struck rather a discordant note: If MPs were required to maintain radio silence, it appeared that this injunction did not apply to him.

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He went on a lengthy explanation of why he thought there had not been a breach of the rules, which is presumably the remit of the investigation.

In footballing terms it was a case of getting his retaliation in first.

And remote as it seems, that investigation might actually clear him of any wrongdoing - the wrongdoing that he has offered an apology for.

In the end, the best that could be said is that the confrontation amounted to a score draw.

There will be a return fixture in a few weeks time when MPs will have the opportunity to dissect the findings of the investigation.

That might be a much more challenging battle altogether.

Our political editor has had his say, now here are the views of some our readers:

Penny Clifford: "Why would you need a physical meeting when everyone was told to work from home, teachers were doing zoom teaching and quite a few people were on furlough. Half hearted excuses don’t wash anymore."

Antonia Joos: "They really think the British public are stupid to believe that..."

Sally McKay: "How can we trust anything they have said or advised??"

Steve Burrows: "I watched the whole of PMQs. What I found even more cringeworthy than Johnson's squirming apology was the others on his side of the house behaving like it wasn't happening. Shameful really."

Alex Remedios: "Even if that nonsense was true, doesn't it prove he doesn't even know what's happening in his own garden let alone what's happening in the country he's apparently running."

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