Boris Johnson, the UK’s Prime Minister since 2019, is currently under fire from all sides of the UK political scene. This is because he was found guilty, and subsequently fined, by the London Metropolitan Police for breaching Covid rules by attending a birthday party at 10 Downing Street. Is this a serious breach of conduct? Or a storm in a teacup whipped up by his opponents?
Why was he fined?
Over the past few months, photo evidence has been leaked of a number of parties, or what seem like it, held at government buildings, including 10 Downing Street, the UK PM’s official residence and place of work. Boris Johnson has always denied wrongdoing, defending himself by saying that he either didn’t attend, or if he did, that he didn’t know that they were parties. Upon the conclusion of the police investigation, Boris Johnson and others, including his wife and his Chancellor (Finance Minister) were fined for breaking Covid rules.
So what? Who of us has followed all the rules all the time?
People defending the UK Prime Minister are saying that we should consider the matter closed. MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a staunch ally and defender of Johnson and member of his Cabinet, has said that there are far more pressing matters we should concentrate on, not least the war in Ukraine, along with the fact that the Prime Minister being fined by the police points to the fact that nobody is above the law in the UK.
However, critics argue that having a Prime Minister who breaks the rules he himself has put in place, severely erodes the trust that people have in the government and the rules themselves. It is important to note that around the same time that these parties were taking place, the rules about social distancing in the UK were very strict, with people unable to spend time with sick loved ones, and in many cases, not even being allowed to attend their funerals. Who could forget the image of the Queen alone at the funeral of her husband of 74 years? It has since come to light that a party was held at 10 Downing Street just hours before that picture was taken.
By and large, the UK population followed the strict Covid regulations when they were in place. If Johnson’s government needed to impose more restrictions in the future, would the people follow them, knowing that those imposing these rules have knowingly broken them before? By extension, are there any other rules that the people in government are breaking, and that the general population should just ignore?
Partygate: No easy return for Boris Johnson after Easter break - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-61140292
Boris Johnson sorry for party as Labour calls apology a joke - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-61154461
‘He was ambushed with cake’ and other stories: Tories get creative to defend PM - https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/apr/19/he-was-ambushed-with-cake-and-other-stories-tories-get-creative-to-defend-pm
Jacob Rees-Mogg tells Andrew Marr Partygate is not 'the most pressing political matter' and 'perspective' is needed with backdrop of war in Ukraine and cost of living crisis - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10732909/Jacob-Rees-Mogg-tells-Andrew-Marr-Partygate-not-pressing-political-matter-amid-war.html
Met ‘keeps Sue Gray waiting’ to publish her report into Downing Street parties - https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/met-keeps-sue-gray-waiting-to-publish-her-report-into-downing-street-parties-f29x83583
Sue Gray party report: What are the findings? - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-60201752