As the old saying goes, there’s no smoke without fire – and if a prime minister is trying to put up a smokescreen, then it’s our duty to examine what’s on the other side, rather than blithely let him have his way.
What’s surprising today is the fact that it is Conservative members of Parliament who are rebelling against Boris Johnson for that reason.
They reckon his ‘Plan B’ Covid-19 restrictions, announced on Wednesday, are just a rather vain attempt to distract us all away from the fuss over a series of parties now alleged to have taken place in Whitehall and/or Downing Street while the rest of us were locked down and separated from our loved ones as they died with the virus at a rate of around 500 a day.
We shouldn’t be too surprised, though; many Tories have consistently pushed the view that Covid-19 should not be allowed to interfere with the national economy and they think any restrictions will have an effect. Nightclub owners have already said they’ll have to close so there is weight to these claims.
For our purposes as seekers of the facts, though, it doesn’t matter. They can do the right thing for the wrong reasons if they want. The result should be the same.
So we should welcome claims by Tory MPs that they may undermine Johnson’s ‘Plan B’ when it comes to Parliament next week, not on public health grounds – that it is not needed – but because they think he’s only doing it to get himself off the hook.
We could see which way the wind was blowing when Sajid Javid stood up to give a statement in the Commons about the proposed measures on Wednesday evening – and was immediately greeted, from behind him (it was Tory William Wragg), with the call, “Resign!”
When Javid protested that the decision to impose them was not taken lightly, another Tory shouted, “What a load of old tripe!”
These Tories had been led to believe that Johnson and Javid had decided to wait for further information on Covid’s Omicron variant on Tuesday, but the prime minister had hastily changed his mind when the video of Allegra Stratton laughing about the party in Downing Street on December 18 last year went public.
Johnson’s insistence that the increased transmissibility of Omicron meant he had to act – and he could no longer wait for the data he had previously said was needed on how serious the threat from the new variant was – seems unbelievable when one understands that the only change between his decisions was the release of the video clip.
According to The Guardian, many of these Tories were now saying they had “grave doubts about their own credibility with the public” as a result of the about-face and the apparent reason for it.
And they’re saying they will not help Johnson and Javid legitimise it at a retrospective vote on Tuesday (December 14) – either because of the scandal or because they don’t believe the rationale, which comes to the same thing if you think about it.
Tory MP Marcus Fysh said he would vote against the plan for Covid passports because they were a “massive imposition on our liberties” that should not be imposed “without absolutely crystal-clear need and evidence”.
William Wragg (him again) suggested the announcement was a diversion from allegations about parties at Number 10.
Former chief whip Mark Harper questioned why people should listen to the government and follow the rules “when people inside Number 10 Downing Street don’t do so”.
Steve Baker, a former minister and prominent critic of lockdown restrictions, has urged the “maximum number of MPs” to vote against Plan B measures.
Outside Parliament, the chairman of South Basildon Conservatives has resigned live on BBC Essex. Charlie Sansom said, “I cannot morally defend a party that I consider to be moving in a very tyrannical direction.”
In all, around 22 Tories have said they’ll oppose ‘Plan B’ for varying reasons – but this is not enough to stop it or undermine Boris Johnson and his lies, for one very good reason.
Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is going to support it.
‘Plan B’ doesn’t make any sense in its own right – businesspeople who’ll be affected by the new measures say they are contradictory (the classic is the distinction between restrictions at social venues that can hold more than 500 people and none at those with lower capacity. People are asking why ministers think Covid-19 will turn away from the smaller places) and will do little or nothing to stop the spread of the virus in any of its forms.
But Starmer is whipping Labour to support it.
It is a clear opportunity to rid the UK of a lying, corrupt prime minister who poisons everything he touches and who will continue to destroy the fabric of UK society if allowed to do so.
But Starmer is whipping Labour to support him.
It’s more evidence, as if any were needed, that Starmer is as bad a chancer, as much an opportunist, as Johnson.
He is happy to let Johnson continue destroying the UK and its people because he thinks Johnson will be easier to defeat in a general election than anyone who might replace him now – and the rest of us can go to Hell for the sake of his career.
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