It has been confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will be issued with fixed penalty notices. This is in response to them being found guilty -along with over 50 others- of illegally attending a gathering during lockdown on the 18th of June 2020.
It is alleged that Johnson was present at 6 of (at least) 12 of such events currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.
Now, you may be asking yourself what a fixed penalty notice is in the first place. They are fines, initially introduced in the 1950s to deal with parking offences. If not paid up, they become a criminal offence. One can either pay, or reject the FPN and have the matter resolved in court.
Now that’s out of the way, you might be wondering, “why should I care?”
I’m sure images of the V-Day congas and people flocking to the beach during sunny lockdown days are fresh in many of our memories, so why is such a big deal being made about a few parties during a tough time? Well, Boris Johnson is the first PM in British history to ever be found guilty of breaking the law while in office.
This is a very dangerous precedent that should not be normalised. Normally, a PM guilty of openly and knowingly misleading parliament would resign. As he is the first to be sanctioned for breaking the law, there is no precedent. However, it is clear he ought to resign.
While the amount to be paid is undisclosed, a fine is a ridiculous punishment. To people as rich as Johnson and Sunak, it is nothing more than a scolding glare. Barely a smack on the wrists. The fine is not a punishment at all. It merely serves as confirmation of their guilt.
The fines are proof that Johnson has repeatedly lied to parliament and to the British people. It is proof that while he made it illegal for people to say goodbye to their dying loved ones, he was laughing behind our backs at parties. He has lost the moral authority to lead. What little he had in the first place.
So quite rightly, Keir Starmer – among countless others – has called for both the PM and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to resign. The echo of calls for Johnson’s resignation never seems to fade from the halls of Westminster.
So let’s recap some of these previous reasons, in case people are in any doubt that this instance alone is not enough for his immediate removal.
As recently as last December calls for his resignation resounded throughout the UK over a Downing Street Christmas party hosted in December 2020. This was a time “when every individual up and down the country was told to stay at home in order to protect the NHS”.
As if that weren’t enough proof of his contempt for the British public, another perhaps more memorable example is that of Dominic Cummings’ Barnard Castle trip. When Cummings, one of Johnson’s most senior advisors broke lockdown rules, he defended him saying he acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”. His persistent defence of someone he knew had acted illegally is just more proof of his disrespect for the British public.
Johnson also faced many demands for his departure over his woeful handling of the Covid crisis. Lockdowns imposed too late, a failed test and trace system, and thousands of avoidable deaths. If this is not reason enough for him to be ousted I don’t know what is. Perhaps doling out billions in public money to his mates for phoney PPE contracts. There is no limit to his lies, his sleaze, his contempt, his croneyism.
Johnson’s response to the penalty notice matched his conduct so far entirely, stating that “at the time it did not occur to me this might have been a breach of the rules”. The brain boggles at how stupid he believes us all to be, thinking we’d lap up his excuses. This has to be the final straw.
Boris Johnson does not care at all about the British public, that has always been clear. Now it has been made undeniable. His only care is advancing his own personal agenda and that of his mates. His flippant and utterly contemptuous attitude has further cemented hypocrisy, arrogance and cronyism as core values of the crumbling Tory party. His party will undoubtedly have its work cut in piecing itself back together.
Johnson needs to be taught that our country is not his playpen. The whole government needs to be taught that it is not one rule for us, one rule for them. Johnson must go, willingly or not.