Boris Johnson has apologised, but claims he thought the party was a work event, ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand outlines what happens now
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to resign by senior Conservatives after he admitted to attending a lockdown-breaking party in May 2020.
The prime minister apologised for attending the event and said he regretted it "very much", but defended himself by claiming to think he was at a work event.
"I believed implicitly that this was a work event. With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside. I should have found some other way to thank them," he said.
Tory MPs have been telling ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston that the prime minister is in serious trouble
But saying sorry wasn't enough for some Tories, including Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross and veteran MP Sir Roger Gale, who have both called on the prime minister to resign.
Mr Ross said the PM must quit, telling reporters: "I said yesterday if the Prime Minister attended this gathering, party, event in Downing Street on May 20 then he could not continue as prime minister. So regretfully I have to say his position is no longer tenable."
The Scot said Mr Johnson's apology implies "acceptance from the prime minister that it was wrong and therefore, I don't want to be in this position, but I am in this position now, where I don't think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives".
"Enough is enough," Sir Roger said, telling ITV News that a "red line has been crossed, the information given at the Despatch Box was not correct and when its time to go, either people go voluntarily and with dignity... or the 1922 Committee will have to take action".
William Wragg, chairman of the Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee also called on the PM to quit.
He told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that: "A series of unforced errors are deeply damaging to the perception of the party. The prime minister's position is untenable."
Several Tory Members of the Scottish Parliament have also called on Mr Johnson to quit.
Which Tory MPs have called on Boris Johnson to resign?
Sir Roger Gale
Caroline Nokes, asked on ITV's Peston if the PM should go, said "absolutely"
To remove a party leader, 15% of Tory MPs must submit letters of no confidence to the 1992 Committee - effectively the HR department of the Conservative Party - which would then trigger a secret ballot.
If 50% of Tory MPs back the PM in the ballot he will remain party leader, if he fails to secure a majority he will be removed.
How have Tory voters reacted to Boris Johnson's apology? ITV News Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman reports
Mr Johnson has retained the confidence of close Cabinet ministers, with both Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid publicly backing the prime minister.
Mr Raab said he thinks Mr Johnson will remain leader of the UK for "many years to come" while Mr Javid said the PM "did the right thing by apologising".
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was the first out of the blocks to back her boss, saying an inquiry led by senior official Sue Gray must be allowed to go ahead.
The PM's apologies for various Downing Street events have moved from "I've been assured there was no party" to "I didn't realise it was a party"
Ms Dorries wrote on Twitter that the "PM was right to personally apologise earlier. People are hurt and angry at what happened and he has taken full responsibility for that."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak went unheard from until gone 8pm on Wednesday, he wrote on Twitter: "I’ve been on a visit all day today continuing work on our #PlanForJobs as well as meeting MPs to discuss the energy situation."The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry."
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “The Prime Minister is delivering for Britain – from Brexit to the booster programme to economic growth. I stand behind the Prime Minister 100% as he takes our country forward.”
Watch Boris Johnson's apology in full:
Mr Johnson told MPs he was only in the garden for 25 minutes to thank staff for their hard work before resuming work in his office.
He admitted there were "things we simply didn't get right" and said he "regrets very much that we did not do things differently that evening".
But an email, leaked to ITV News - which showed 100 staff were invited to "make the most of the lovely weather" by attending "socially distanced drinks" in the No 10 garden - brings into question his claim it was not a work event.
Downing Street has claimed the PM did not see the email.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the prime minister was a "pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road", as he called for his resignation.
He said it was "ridiculous" for the prime minister to claim he "didn't realise he was at a party", as he urged Mr Johnson to "do the decent thing and resign".
Strikingly, Mr Johnson did not rule out quitting, suggesting MPs should wait for the outcome of an internal investigation before demanding his resignation.
Calls for his resignation were repeated by MPs from the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Alliance Party.
Numerous other Tories have privately expressed concerns to ITV News that the prime minister will not be able to lead the Conservatives into the next general election.
Mr Johnson, saying sorry to the public, told the Commons: "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 they have been through - unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love."
He said that senior official Sue Gray should be allowed to complete her inquiry into a series of alleged parties held during lockdown in No 10 and Whitehall "so that the full facts can be established".
Mr Johnson claimed his actions "were within the rules" that had been set out by Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden in a press conference just an hour before the gathering took place.
Mr Dowden told the public: “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place - provided that you stay two metres apart."
The PM's former chief adviser Dominic Cummings said the claim of compliance was "bulls***".
He said the excuse was made because the alternative was to admit that he had broken the rules.
Mr Cummings had previously said he warned the PM at the time that holding the event would be unlawful but claims he was ignored.
PMQs was the prime minister's first public appearance since ITV News revealed evidence of the party in the form of a leaked email invite, sent by Mr Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds.
Attending a party of any kind during the UK's first lockdown would have broken the law.
At the time, people could only meet up outdoors with one other person who was not in their household. People were also advised to work from home.
Downing Street had until now refused to confirm whether Mr and Mrs Johnson were there.
Even red wall Tory Christian Wakeford, who won Bury South amid Mr Johnson's 2019 landslide, labelled the situation "embarrassing", while senior Conservative Johnny Mercer said it was "humiliating".
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard has said it is in contact with the Cabinet Office about the latest allegation.
As a result, the current internal investigation could be paused if evidence emerges of a criminal offence and the Metropolitan Police decide to launch an inquiry.
The force made contact with the Cabinet Office after ITV News published the leaked email.
In his final response to Sir Keir, the PM listed work the government has been doing on testing, antivirals and vaccines.
He told the Commons: "Whatever mistakes that have been made on my watch, for which I apologise and fully acknowledge, that is the work that has been going on in No 10 Downing Street."