British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied on Tuesday an accusation by his former adviser that he had lied to parliament about a lockdown party, saying nobody had warned him the "bring your own booze" gathering might contravene COVID-19 rules.
Johnson faces the gravest crisis of his tenure after revelations about gatherings during lockdowns, some when British people could not even bid farewell in person to dying relatives and the Queen was mourning her husband.
Propelled into the top job to "get Brexit done", Johnson won his party's biggest majority in more than 30 years but now faces calls to resign from opponents and even some of his own lawmakers.
Asked if he had lied to the public and parliament, Johnson told reporters: "No. Nobody told me that what we were doing was, as you say, against the rules ... I thought that I was attending a work event."
Johnson sidestepped questions about whether he would resign if proven he misled parliament, saying only that he wanted to wait for the outcome of an internal inquiry.
"He’s the prime minister, he set the rules, he didn’t need anyone to tell him that the party he attended broke them," said Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party.
"If he had any respect for the British public, he would do the decent thing and resign."
Johnson used the short interview during a visit to a hospital to apologise for mistakes made in Downing Street, including for parties held by staff on the eve of the funeral of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband.
"I deeply and bitterly regret that happened and I can only renew my apologies both to Her Majesty and to the country," he said.