Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, the prime minister denied he had been told of the gathering ahead of time.
It contradicts claims from his former adviser Dominic Cummings that he had been warned about the event in advance – but refused to take action.
“I’ve seen the email from Martin Reynolds. Clearly that was not phrased in a way that was right,” he told Sky News. “I only saw it when it emerged (in the press”.
Asked if he would resign if the report concluded he had misled MPs, he said: “We’ll have to see what Sue Gray says. She could be given the space to get on with her inquiry.”
The ministerial code states: “Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”
Earlier on Tueday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted he “believes” the prime minister’s explanation.
Asked whether Mr Johnson would have to resign if it was proven he had lied to parliament, Sunak said: “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. The ministerial code is clear on these matters.
“But as you know, Sue Gray is conducting an inquiry into the situation. I think it’s right that we allow her to conclude that job.”
The Chancellor was not present at prime minister’s questions last Wednesday while Mr Johnson made his apology to MPs, fuelling speculation in Westminster that he was attempting to distance himself from the crisis.
Dominic Cummings has confirmed to Sky News that he will be providing evidence to Sue Gray
Sky News Political Editor Beth Rigby has said Dominic Cummings will provide evidence to Sue Gray’s Partygate inquiry.
Mr Cummings himself had tweeted seemingly at the beleaguered PM: “ Your best line of defence is … catastrophic, and the more media you do defending yourself the more you destroy your own support & hasten the inevitable #regimechange.”
Even the Mary Rose is having a pop at the PM’s ‘Nobody told me this was a party’ excuse
Has Boris Johnson been well and truly sunk by the favourite ship of King Henry VIII? A social media post for the Mary Rose, who herself sank off the south coast of England in 1545, couldn’t resist a dig at the Prime Minister from beyond her watery grave.
Nicola Sturgeon: ‘Fall in cases gives us confidence that we have turned the corner on the Omicron wave’
Here is some video of Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier announcing that restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid are to be lifted from Monday.
She said more recent figures, showing a fall in infections, “gives us confidence that we have turned the corner on the Omicron wave”.
As a result she confirmed the measures – a limit on the numbers at indoor events, table service only at bars and other places selling alcohol and the closure of nightclubs – will be lifted from January 24.
Guidance limiting gatherings to a maximum of three households will also end on the same date, Ms Sturgeon added, along with restrictions preventing adults from taking part in indoor contact sports.
She also said there would be no extension to coronavirus vaccine passports at the moment, stating: “Given that cases are now falling quite rapidly, and the current wave is receding, we decided that we will not at this stage extend the Covid certification scheme to other premises.”
The announcement comes the day after the Scottish Government lifted its cap on numbers at outdoor events, with the First Minister saying the situation was now “much more positive” than it had been earlier in January, when cases had spiked.
Over 90,000 daily Covid cases recorded
A further 94,43 Covid cases have been recorded in the UK as of 9am on Tuesday, the Government said.
The Government also said a further 438 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
It brings the total to 152,513.
In full: Rayner calls on PM to resign
Rayner: PM ‘lied to the British people and must resign’
Boris Johnson has lied to the British public and must resign, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has said.
Ms Rayner said the prime minister was “only sorry because he got caught” after he was forced into an apology over a party held in the Downing Street garden in breach of lockdown rules on May 20, 2020.
She told Sky News it is “now up to his MPs to show the public they put them first” by submitting letters of no confidence in his leadership.
Peers’ rejection of protest curbs ‘disappointing’, says No 10
Downing Street defended measures to tackle protesters’ “guerrilla tactics” after peers gutted the legislation with a series of defeats for the Government.
In a series of votes on Monday night, peers rejected controversial measures in Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill designed to combat the tactics adopted by groups including Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain.
No 10 said it would reflect on peers’ votes but did not rule out using a Commons majority to overturn the defeats inflicted in the chamber.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “It is disappointing the Lords did not back the public order measures that will ensure the everyday lives of the overwhelming majority are not disrupted by a selfish minority of protesters whose actions endanger lives and cost the public millions of pounds.”
The spokesman said policing Extinction Rebellion protests in April and October 2019 had cost £37 million, “more than twice the annual budget of London’s violent crime taskforce”, while Insulate Britain cost forces £4 million in three months last year.
Cummings is ‘completely discredited’, claims Tory backbencher
Dominic Cummings is “completely discredited” after his own lockdown breaking trip in the early stages of the first lockdown, a veteran Tory backbencher has claimed.
“I don’t believe a word that Dominic Cummings says about anything,” MP Peter Bone told Sky News.
“When he drove from London to Durham with Covid. When he went to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.
“He is completely discredited and I’m afraid if it’s a question of believing the Prime Minister or Dominic Cummings, it’s the Prime Minister every time.”
His comments follow Mr Cummings’ claim that Boris Johnson had been warned over a party held in May 2020 – contradicting the prime minister’s defence that he was not aware it was a social event.
Matt Hancock finds himself in cold water as he enjoys London’s Serpentine
Matt Hancock has been captured enjoying an icy plunge into the depths of London’s Serpentine, writes Jonathan Prynn.
The 43-year-old Tory MP had been jogging in a foggy Hyde Park with members of the Parliamentary Running Club, including former Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland and former junior health minister Lord Bethell.
Mr Hancock, who has only just emerged from isolation after testing positive for Covid for the second time last week, swam for about 20 metres in water chilled by a frosty winter’s night before deciding that was enough.
Read our full story here.
Sturgeon says restrictions brought in for Omicron will end next week
Fresh restrictions introduced in Scotland to counter the wave of Omicron infections will be brought to an end next Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
In the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said nightclub closures and the requirement for table service in hospitality will come to an end. Attendance limits on indoor events will also be lifted.
Ms Sturgeon said: “From Monday we will also lift the guidance asking people to stick to a three-household limit on indoor gatherings.
“However, it is important to stress this point: notwithstanding the improving situation, the level of Covid infection circulating in the community is still high.
“So to minimise the risk of us getting the virus it would be sensible for all of us to remain cautious in our social interactions at this stage.”
Baseline measures in place before the pandemic – such as vaccine passports and face coverings in public indoor settings – will remain.