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Sunday, Nov 27, 2022

The Lawmakers are the lawbreakers: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak among those fined for breaking the laws that they set for everybody else

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They broke the laws they set for everyone else. Then the Prime Minister as well as Sunak lied and lied again to parliament.
“Never before in history has a Prime Minister broken the law,” Chris Bryant, chair of both the standards and privileges committees, told me this afternoon.

“These aren’t just rules; they broke the law”. They lied to the house and celebrated in the wake of Prince Philip’s death.

Johnson’s Chancellor (and tax evader) Sunak, when asked if he had attended two Downing Street Christmas parties, told the Commons: “No, Mr Speaker, I did not attend any parties.” Sunak, the crook with the charming look, obviously also lied.

After police investigating a series of criminal boozy bashes at 10 Downing Street announced on Tuesday that they were issuing another 30 more fines for breaking strict pandemic lockdown rules, Prime Minister Boris Johnson conceded that he was one of the guilty ones.

He offered his apology, said he didn’t he didn’t think he was breaking any laws and also said that he wasn’t going to quit, despite breaking the law. Instead, he ran away to shift the public attention to his PR show with Ukraine.

They both broke the law and are disgraced. Whatever they do now, shame will cling to Johnson and Sunak. They will be forever followed by tales of people who abided by the Covid rules and died alone – while Downing Street partied.

Breaking the law and lying about it to the house would have seen any other Prime Minister and Chancellor resign instantly. But nothing can make them go if they cling to their posts. Only their own MPs can oust them, with a flurry of those famous letters to the backbench 1922 Committee’s Chair.

There should be queues forming outside Sir Graham Brady’s door right now, but don’t hold your breath. Instead, you will hear calculating perplexity: without them, who would be our winning leader? But, for the sake of their reputations, these MPs should only consider the probity of their party.

More sententiously, they pretend concern for the country: a war is no time to ditch a leader.

Really? In both world wars, inadequate leaders were dumped unceremoniously for someone better suited for that serious and decisive role. None of them selected Boris Johnson expecting him to make a war leader.

God knows how long the war in Ukraine may last, but the time may come, before long, when citizens across the Nato countries will be asked to make sacrifices, in energy, in supply lines and in taxes. An immoral lawbreaker who has failed to acknowledge the grievousness of his own behaviour is hardly the man to call on others to tighten their belts in the national interest.

This government pretends that Covid has gone away, because it wishes it had. It has chosen to ignore the hundreds of deaths a day, the hospitals and ambulance services being overwhelmed, pretending that it’s all over.

But, wherever Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak go, if they ever dare to face an unscripted audience, someone will stand up and say, “My mother died alone, because we obeyed the law” or “My children had to say goodbye to their dying mother on a tablet, because we all obeyed the law while you held 12 parties.” Imagine trying to dodge every ordinary citizen who may well have a story to tell during an election campaign.

Bryant has a constituent, a university student, who was fined £2,100 for attending (not organising) a party during lockdown. Many others will wonder why these two got off so lightly.

To the hundreds of thousands with painful Covid stories, those Downing Street parties will always be an affront, not a mere bagatelle as the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg pretend. And for none of them will this all fade away by the next election.

Tory MPs need to hear loudly and clearly from all their electors. They need a frightening avalanche of emails and letters, today, right now. Nothing else will stir them to do what their party would certainly have done at any other point in its history.

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