Boris Johnson has admitted the Partygate saga has been a “totally miserable experience” for him and those at No 10, but insisted he would not resign.
The prime minister was grilled over the scandal by Mumsnet users on Wednesday – with one member asking him how the public could believe a “habitual liar”.
Mr Johnson “apologised very much” for his behaviour, but said he was “very, very surprised and taken aback” to be fined by the Metropolitan Police for attending a birthday party in his honour in June 2020.
He added: “I can totally see how infuriating it is that people like me were not fulfilling the letter of the rules ourselves. I totally understand that.”
Asked about the political pressure he is now under, Mr Johnson acknowledged: “I’m not going to deny the whole thing hasn’t been a totally miserable experience for people in government.”
But he insisted he would not resign. “I cannot see how it would be responsible right now, with everything that’s going on, simply to abandon … the project on which I embarked.”
Mr Johnson also revealed that he did not eat any birthday cake at the June 2020 event which saw him receive a fixed penalty notice for a breach of his Covid laws.
“If you’re talking about that miserable event that appeared on the front page of newspapers, no cake was consumed by me – I can tell you that much,” he joked.
Explaining his attendance at the birthday bash, he said: “If people look at the event in question, it felt to me like a work event. I was there for a very short period of time.
Referring to his attendance at several leaving drinks, for which he was not punished, the PM said: “I genuinely believed that what I was doing – and I know why people may think it’s not good enough – but what I believed I was doing was saying goodbye briefly to hard-working staff.”
He added: “What I thought was doing was right for a leader in any circumstances and that was to thank people for their service.”
Mr Johnson said he was “doing a lot” as a parent at the moment – revealing that he had “changed a lot of nappies recently”.
He said the Dr Suess books were his favourite as a child, quoting the line: “No time for games, no time for fun, work to be done” – claiming it was the “motto” at No 10.