My many years involved in politics have taught me that things are not always what they seem and so it is not advisable to make a judgement too soon. I therefore listened to those Conservatives who urged us to wait for the publication of the Sue Gray report before reaching any firm conclusion.
It is now Tuesday morning as I write this and I have just read the limited report that has been published.
The initial allegation that there had been ‘a party’ was swiftly denied by the Prime Minister, but we are now aware that Sue Gray has investigated at least 14 alleged gatherings. As the report makes clear, what has been published so far are only ‘general findings’ and there will be more details at a later date, once police investigations into some of the alleged events are complete.
Despite this, I believe that what has already been said is damming. The report includes the following words: “There was too little thought given to what was happening across the country in considering the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public. There were failures of leadership and judgement by different parts of No. 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times. Some of the events should not have been allowed to take place.”
I have always been reluctant to call for politicians to resign as I know that hindsight allows us all to reflect on how we would do some things differently if a situation arose again.
What makes this case different is that this was not an error of judgement, but a flagrant disregard for the laws that those breaking them had themselves established. Whilst across the country people were observing the lockdowns, which for many meant that they were unable to say a final goodbye to loved ones, some in Downing Street seemed to think that these rules did not apply to them. Whilst Boris Johnson has issued a form of apology, he still does not seem to think that he did anything wrong and it appears that his greatest regret is having been found out.
It is the disregard for the rules that he has himself set and an apparent belief that he is above the law, that I believe that Boris Johnson should resign. This is not a party political point, I listened to much of Prime Minister’s Question Time and it was clear from this that this view is shared by many good, honest Conservative MPs, a number of whom suffered the loss of loved ones during the pandemic.
For the Prime Minister to do other than resign, calls into question the integrity of all politicians. I recognise that things are changing quickly and so hopefully by the time that you read this, he will have done the decent thing and the country can move forward with a new person at the helm.