BorisSunday 23rd January 2022
Anne Marie Waters
It hasn’t been an easy time for Boris Johnson. There are those, including on his own benches, calling for his resignation in light of revelations that parties took place in Downing Street while the rest of the country was locked down.
One such event is alleged to have taken place at the Prime Minister’s residence in May of 2020. During this time, rules in place disallowed people leaving their houses without reasonable excuse. These reasonable excuses were work (if you couldn’t work from home), exercise, or to buy food or medicine. The rules also stated that there could be no gatherings of two or more people, in a public place, unless they were essential for work.
Now for the defences. Lawyers have claimed that Downing Street is not a public place, and therefore the gathering of around 30 people was not in breach. Secondly, the get-together was in fact a work event rather than a party. For the millions of people who made genuine sacrifices, as serious as not visiting very ill relatives, these defences will sound pretty hollow. The damage is done, and regardless of what lawyers argue, it is clear that Johnson and his staff didn’t take the virus quite as seriously as they warned the public to take it.
There were other incidents. In late 2020 and early 2021, several other gatherings are alleged to have taken place, all at times when the public was restricted. These included an indoor party (when indoor mixing was banned) the night before Prince Philip’s funeral. Johnson apologised to the Queen for this.
Now there will be an inquiry. A senior civil servant, Sue Gray, is to lead a fact-finding mission to clarify exactly what took place in Downing Street during periods of lockdown. According to the BBC, if potentially criminal behaviour is uncovered, it will be referred to the police. Let’s see. It’s interesting to note that the previous civil servant who was to lead this investigation was forced to step down when it emerged that such an event had been held in his own office.
Johnson may now face a vote of no confidence. If 54 Tory MPs write to the backbench committee (the 1922 Committee) requesting such a vote, it will take place. His leadership may therefore be hanging in the balance.
So what to do? Politicians love a distraction, and often when the chips are down, they decide to deliver good news – is that what is happening here?
The Prime Minister has taken this opportunity to announce that there will be no covid vaccine passports. All of the so-called ‘Plan B’ measures will also end on Thursday 27th of January. From that day, nightclubs, seated venues indoors and outdoors will no longer be required to seek vaccine confirmation. (They can still do so however if they wish to).
Similar pullbacks will take place across the UK. In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has stated that covid certification will not be required for pubs and restaurants. In Wales, restrictions are due to be lifted in the coming weeks.
From 26 January, its covid passport scheme will no longer be mandatory for pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres in Northern Ireland.
This is obviously good news, but perhaps some cynics will question the timing, particularly for England, as it provides a ripe opportunity for Boris to deflect. Will it work? Will he get away with it in the public mind? Even if he does, it is likely to be through gritted teeth. Trust is gone regardless of what happens to Boris Johnson now.
From now on, it will be almost impossible for the government, especially a Boris Johnson government, to persuade the British public to obey hugely restrictive rules. It may well be the beginning of the end of the covid crisis.
International groups however may not be pleased. There is little doubt that organisations such as the World Health Organisation have been partly calling the shots for the last two years. Indeed, the WHO has already responded to restrictions easing with warnings that new variants may be around the corner.
Meanwhile, there may be more good news. The plan to sack thousands of unvaccinated NHS workers may be delayed if the Royal College of GPs is to get its way. This body has warned the government that if plans to have all staff fully vaccinated by April or be sacked is followed, it will lead to catastrophic staff shortages. The government, for now at least, is insisting that the health service vaccinations will go ahead as planned. So much for avoiding strain on the NHS!
It’s been a rollercoaster, and it still is. If we are seeing light at the end of the covid tunnel, one thing we must not forget is the betrayal of this government, and the obvious lies that told. They won’t go away with covid restrictions. They will continue in to the next crisis and the next and the next… they will continue until these corrupted political parties are replaced… for good.
Anne Marie Waters
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