BOURNEMOUTH MP and government minister Conor Burns has said he has “absolute confidence” in Boris Johnson despite the prime minister’s admission that he attended a party during lockdown.

Mr Johnson has admitted for the first time that he attended a drinks gathering in Downing Street in May 2020, when it was forbidden to socialise outdoors with more than one other person.

The prime minister said he had believed it was a work event and stayed for 25 minutes, but that “with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside”.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, Bournemouth West MP Mr Burns said that “with the benefit of hindsight, sometimes mistakes were made” in government.

He said: “I can put my hand on my heart. I have known Boris Johnson well for a long time. I was his parliamentary private secretary in the Foreign Office, I was at his side during the leadership election. I have absolute confidence and belief in Boris Johnson and he is determined to restore the trust.”

Asked by presenter Sarah Montague “what possible explanation” there could be for staff to be invited to a “bring your own booze” gathering in the Downing Street garden, he said: “I was in government shortly before these events and in departments we worked closely with officials.

“We were tasked by the British public with procuring the vaccine, with responding to the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic and as the prime minister acknowledged when he spoke to the House of Commons earlier, with the benefit of hindsight, sometimes mistakes were made.”

Asked whether the prime minister had misled the House of Commons when he first addressed the subject of Downing Street parties in December, Mr Burns – a minister of state for Northern ireland – said: “I do not believe the prime minister misled the House of Commons. That’s a very serious charge.

“He has acknowledged in his own statement today that, with the benefit of hindsight, we did not get it right and he accepted responsibility today.

“He used the words ‘I must take responsibility’.”

Referring to the inquiry being headed by civil servant Sue Gray, Mr Burns said: “It is now for Sue Gray to complete her report, to present that report which will be made public and the prime minister has already undertaken that he will then come to the House of Commons and be held accountable for it.”

He sad he “totally understood” why people might lose confidence in politicians. “It is the prime minister’s job and task, and he will relish it, to rebuild that trust with the British people and get on with the job of delivering for them,” he added.