If Boris Johnson didn’t understand the Covid rules, he’s the only one

When you’re the prime minister and you’re hiring a lawyer to find a loophole you can use in laws you came up with yourself, that’s when you might start to wonder if maybe there’s no way back – but Boris Johnson isn’t worrying about that for now.

Johnson’s intended defense with regard to being utterly banged for rights over illegal parties in Downing Street is slowly emerging. The latest, we are told, is that he really will claim that the leaving drinks – of which he attended several – were “part of work”.

Of course, the only correct response to this is simply to stop whatever you’re doing and hysterically laugh for 20 minutes or so, after which you may also wish to have a gentle cry, but sadly we must point out at least one or two of the several hundred thousand flaws therein.

Leaving drinks are “part of work”, naturally, but they tend to be “part of work” when there is not a pandemic on, and when there aren’t clear unarguable laws in place about what work colleagues can and can’t do . And one of those things, very clearly, are social occasions.

The trouble with the neverending partygate s***show, which by this point has very little to do with parties and absolutely everything to do with months and months and months of very obvious lies, is that absolutely everybody understands it, politically engaged or otherwise , because absolutely everybody had their lives ruined trying to follow rules that the prime minister couldn’t be bothered with.

What with the unprecedented hit to jobs, and the sheer mind-bending amount of time that all this misery has now gone on for, there are highly likely to be well over a million people who have left a job without any kind of leaving do, because such things were not allowed. It has not, in fact, been altogether uncommon for people to have taken a job in the pandemic, and then left it again after well over a year, without having a leaving do or even a joining do. On a purely anecdotal basis, I know several examples of people who have eventually held combined leaving two, having left a job and then, after a year or more, also left the one they left it for.

If Johnson is confused about the nature of leaving dos, and what was or wasn’t allowed, he is the only person in the country who is, and yet he wrote the rules himself. Former advisers to the prime minister have spoken of going through proposed legislation and new regulations with him, “line by line”, so as to leave him in no doubt about the severity of restrictions he would be bringing in.

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That he is hiring a lawyer to explain to the police how actually he never understood them would be laughable. But then, you may remember that he has already publicly explained that he didn’t understand his own Brexit deal either – the one, you may recall, that he baked into a pie and placed in an oven for the benefit of the TV cameras, shortly before driving a JCB through a wall of polystyrene tiles.

What is arguably most curious of all is that he has also made clear, via “friends” and “sources”, that even if he is served with a fine for having broken the law, he won’t resign. It is very hard to see that line holding. Johnson has U-turned very fast indeed on matters far less egregious.

But if it is true, one does wonder what he is gaining, both now and throughout the last three months, from his constant shambolic lies and preposterous defenses of the indefensible. He has lied to the public, over and over and over again. There is no sane reading of events that cannot conclude that he hasn’t lied to the House of Commons. And if the police decide they do not believe his lies about him and fine him, and his intention about him then is to just ignore it and move on – why not just do that to begin with?

The answer, probably, is that he doesn’t know. But in the meantime, it is very hard, indeed impossible, to see how he will ever be taken seriously again.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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