Boris Johnson just beat Donald Trump to it. He became the first leader of his government to be found guilty of a crime — in history. On Tuesday the Metropolitan Police announced that Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were issued with “fixed penalty notices.” The decision came after it was determined that they breached Covid laws by attending a 56th birthday party for the prime minister in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street on 19 June 2020, when indoor social gatherings were strictly banned.
This after Johnson repeatedly and barefacedly denied to Parliament that he’d attended any such parties and that his activities were governed by strict adherence to Covid laws — at all times. That narrative was adjusted slightly to match the evidence to the contrary until Johnson finally confessed: he agreed that he’d broken the rules but he didn’t know he’d broken the rules.
Or as one party loyal MP put it, in classic partisan equivocation, “What is a party anyway?” Apparently it isn’t necessarily an off-hours gathering of people where wine is served and spouses are brought. That such activities were stringently proscribed was another thing.
The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister attended not only his birthday party but literally dozens of other parties. One member of his inner circle (who later resigned) found the hypocrisy so funny she joked about it on camera.
And while Nero fiddled the rest of the nation endured burdensome lockdowns. Grieving family members were not allowed to attend the bedsides of their dying loved ones. Families and friends were cruelly ripped apart for months on end. While the elite laughed, drank and danced, people with depression were forced to endure crushing loneliness.
In my household my wife and I remained isolated and rigidly observed the law. We interacted with my much-loved mother-in-law one on one, outside, masked and socially distanced, followed protocols by going to the grocery store only when necessary and one at a time. Once again, however, it has been shown that there are two laws, those for the elite and those for the rest of us.
In another age not that long ago the prime minister would hang his head in shame, apologise to the nation and resign. But this is a new age, where a cynical and blatant lust for power — power at all costs — prevails. Resign? Honour be damned. Johnson will blush, bluster and smirk all the way back to Number Ten. He’s not going anywhere.
The nation disagrees. Fully 6 out of 10 Britons want Boris Johnson gone. Repeating his apology to the British people but refusing to resign, Johnson insisted he was “focussing 100 per cent on delivering our agenda.” Naturally the crisis in Ukraine has narrowed the focus of the Conservative Party, and many Parliamentary backbenchers who were keen for Johnson’s ouster have backed away from that position on that account.
As I indicated in another article, when Putin invaded Ukraine it was the happiest day of Boris Johnson’s life. It was then that he knew he could justify not resigning should it come to it. Well it’s come to it and he’s refused to resign. And he won’t.
It was a mere 6 years ago that Conservative prime minister David Cameron resigned in disgrace when he gambled and lost on the Brexit vote, and a mere 3 years ago when Conservative prime minister Theresa May resigned when she was unable to successfully implement Brexit. The days of resigning for blunders, stupidities and outright criminal behaviour are over. It is now the era of Trump, Johnson and Conservative party hypocrisy. Sooner or later the public will forget all about it and nobody will have to suffer.
That perception must end. Such people must be brought to justice, and the world is watching the United States of America and expecting leadership by example. Let it be so. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.