If Boris Johnson hoped the end of the Met Police investigation into parties at Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdowns would take the heat off him, he was mistaken. It has been turned up.
For a start, doubt has been cast on the police inquiry after images emerged of the prime minister taking part in events for which he was not fined. Were the police protecting Johnson because he is the prime minister, or giving him privileges not afforded to low-level civil servants because he could afford expensive lawyers? If so, then they were defying the basic principle of UK law that everybody should be treated equally. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded a detailed explanation.
And former Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick has weighed in, stating that the public will want to know what more evidence the police needed to give the prime minister a fixed penalty notice, when the photos appear to show beyond reasonable doubt that he should have been issued with one.
People who attended the parties (and were presumably fined for doing so) have told the BBC and others about the party culture at Downing Street during the Covid lockdowns – a culture endorsed by Boris Johnson, they said, suggesting he “wanted to be liked” and for staff to be able to “let their hair down”, and that they felt they had the prime minister’s permission to socialise even it meant breaking the rules because “he was there.”
It’s not surprising that civil servants are starting to speak out: as is now normal in Boris Johnson’s regime, it is the staff and special advisors who have taken the blame for Partygate rather than the politicians who permitted and participated in the parties. A large majority of the 83 people fined by the police were officials, and Johnson’s backroom team has also suffered a “brutal purge” over the last six months.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case – a close Johnson ally – is safe, though, despite speculation on his future. It seems that after Johnson’s ministers withdrew permission for him to give evidence on Partygate to a committee of MPs, his job is not in danger.
Meanwhile, not a single politician has lost their job. Rishi Sunak simply decided he didn’t feel like stepping down after being fined, and Johnson seems determined to corruptly give himself the all-clear for lying to Parliament, if he is a accused of breaking the Ministerial Code. You see, as prime minister, he is in charge of deciding whether anybody has broken it, including himself.
Tory MPs seem split, though. Environment Secretary George “Useless” Eustice has said he expects “nothing new” to come from the report and that he hopes its publication will allow the government to put the scandal behind it, despite all the loose ends that are still dangling about the lies told by Johnson, the possibility of a Met Police cover-up, and the fact that the Tory government tacitly, if not openly, endorsed the party culture.
But critics are said to be relaunching their bid to oust Johnson by triggering a leadership contest with letters of “no confidence” in him.
And Johnson himself?
According to BBC political editor Chris Mason, he actually has the bare-faced cheek to trot out the tired old lie that “We have learned our lesson”.
What utter Boris Bull****.
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