Man who made UK COVID rules says nobody told him drinks party was against rules

Leon Neal/Pool via AP

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s political opponents clearly smell blood in the water and they are now circling BoJo without fear. The PM is under continuous calls for his resignation after news emerged about multiple parties and social events he attended or hosted while the rest of his nation was locked down under onerous COVID restrictions. An investigation is underway, and Johnson maintains that he won’t be making any decisions until that process is complete. He’s already had to apologize to the Queen for his behavior, but that hasn’t satisfied his opposition critics in Parliament. The latest excuse he has offered for the “drinks party” held last year at his home in Number 10 Downing Street, however, leaves much to be desired. He told reporters this week that nobody ever informed him that the drinks party would be a violation of the rules. (BBC)

Boris Johnson has “categorically” denied he was warned a drinks party in the No 10 garden risked breaking lockdown rules.

“Nobody warned me that it was against the rules,” the prime minister said, adding: “I would have remembered that.”

Former aide Dominic Cummings says he warned Mr Johnson at the time, and has accused him of misleading MPs about it.

Asked if he would resign if he was found to have misled MPs, Mr Johnson said: “Let’s see what the report says.”

Here’s a quick video of BoJo responding after being asked if his apology to the Queen was “a moment of shame” for him.

As I’ve said here before, I actually like Boris Johnson and believe he’s done a fine job as PM for the most part and he has managed his nation’s relationship with the United States in a positive fashion. But he has a real scandal on his hands now and the British public is far less forgiving of these sorts of “do as I say” stories than Americans tend to be.

Dominic Cummings is a former aide to the PM and a party loyalist, but he has obviously opted to leave his old boss hanging in the wind. He’s the one who told reporters that he did in fact warn Johnson against hosting the drinks party. He’s also told the lead investigator into the matter that he is willing to answer any questions she has for him.

This latest excuse isn’t helping matters and could arguably be making things worse. “Nobody warned him” that hosting a party in the garden at his residence would be a violation of the rules? When he was the person who approved and announced the rules? I would venture a guess that nobody “warned” Richard Nixon that he shouldn’t erase portions of the Watergate tapes either, but I suspect he knew he was doing something wrong.

At the time of the party, English citizens were blocked from going to pubs, restaurants and other public spaces. They were forbidden to gather in groups of non-cohabitating household members larger than two. Everyone was supposed to be masked up when leaving their homes. And there was the Prime Minister swigging cocktails with dozens of staff members and relatives. (BoJo’s wife joined him at the party.) It’s a bit much to believe that he had no idea that the party broke his own rules or that the nation would be enraged if they found out about it.

As of yesterday, seven Members of Parliament had announced that they’d submitted letters of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee. Others may have done so without making a public statement. Even worse for BoJo, a group of 20 MPs from his own Conservative Party were holding a meeting yesterday to discuss doing the same thing.

If 54 MPs submit letters of no confidence to the chairman, a new leadership contest will be automatically triggered. A vote of no confidence would force Johnson to quickly schedule a new election, and if recent history is anything to go by, he would almost certainly lose at this point. The clock is ticking for Boris Johnson at the moment. He may still find a way to slip out of this mess and remain in office, but that possibility is looking dimmer by the day.