There’s lots of ways that Boris Johnson has let Britain down, both before he became prime minister and since. But the latest revelations about his behaviour by hosting and attending parties during lockdown has touched a raw nerve. I think there’s a few reasons for that.
Firstly there’s the sheer rank hypocrisy. It didn’t even cross his mind that the rules he expected others to follow should also apply to him.
Then there’s the lies. First he said there were no parties. When evidence emerged he said there were parties but he didn’t know and was furious about it. When revealed he was at them he expected us to believe that he couldn’t be held responsible because no one told him it was a party.
None of this is credible. We’re told to wait for the Sue Grey report but we know enough of the facts already. In fact I’m pretty sure the report could be one sentence long: ‘they were partying everywhere and all the time’.
I bet everyone reading this has painful or moving stories of the sacrifices made during that time.
We all gave up loving contact we cherish with those who mean most. My dad’s 80th birthday was done over Zoom. It was a lovely moment but the screen didn’t entirely bring us together, it somehow made it worse that I couldn’t give him a hug and nor could my brother or dad’s grandchildren. But most important of all – we stuck to the rules.
Boris Johnson had a birthday party in the Cabinet Room and his family and some friends were invited. He also had parties in his flat and in the garden. A DJ was hired for one of them. People went to nearby shops with wheelie suitcases to get enough booze to keep them going.
It’s no wonder people are angry. I am too.
But there’s an even more serious side to this. The scandals that engulf Boris Johnson are so prolific that they’re now intersecting. For example, the person hired to spend £140,000 of other people’s money decorating the flat upstairs was also invited to one of parties downstairs. Ity makes your brain hurt just trying to take all this in!
And just think about the impact all of this had on the work Number 10 is supposed to do. As covid engulfed our country Boris Johnson missed five COBRA meetings which are the highest strategic emergency meetings we have in government. He didn’t have time for those meetings but he did have time to party.
I wrote to the prime minister on the 31st March 2020 telling him what was happening in care homes and recommending urgent action on things like agency workers who were unwittingly spreading covid between homes. I never got a reply.
Then we think of the mistakes on PPE and testing in the early days. And yesterday a government minister resigned admitting that government had been so ‘woeful’ in failing to do even cursory checks on business loans that £4.3 billion has been unnecessarily wasted. This kind of money is eye-watering. That one mistake alone is equivalent to 1p on income tax.
While all these mistakes and missteps were taking place we now know for fact that people in Number 10 from the top down weren’t 100% focussed on work.
Considering the scale of crisis our country was going through, I find it really hard to understand why someone would aspire to work at the very top of government and not dedicate every single waking second to solving problems at a time like this. Up and down our country and around the world people are lonely, sick, anxious and even dying.