Boris Johnson weaselling his through another scandal shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone
In a near perfect summary of the last 24 hours, an anonymous source from Boris Johnson’s government told The Telegraph on Tuesday (7 December): “We are f***ed.”
That evening a leaked video, sourced by ITV News, had been made public, showing No. 10 staff laughing at a mock press conference on 22 December, 2020, where they prepared to field questions about an alleged Downing Street Christmas party.
At the time, the UK had recently been told that Christmas was to be cancelled, that they could not gather with their families, and those in hospitals were even unable to have visitors as they passed away. Reports of a No. 10 Christmas party had been emphatically denied by Downing Street.
But Allegra Stratton, then Johnson’s press secretary, is seen in the leaked video laughing as Ed Oldfield, Johnson’s special advisor, asks: “I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?”
Stratton continued laughing before asking: “What’s the answer?”
One colleague suggested that “it wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine”, and a smiling Stratton joked: “This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced.”
During the Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday (8 December), Johnson promised an investigation into what “may or may not” have happened in his own house.
Millions of families took Government advice last Christmas and stayed at home – even if it meant being apart from loved ones.
Meanwhile the Government threw parties which they lied about.
Then they laughed about lying to you. pic.twitter.com/urYYafTaFI
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) December 8, 2021
But, while the revelations are abhorrent, they should hardly be surprising with Johnson’s long history of nepotism, incompetence, and generally offensive behaviour.
The leaked video was, after all, even filmed in the notorious Downing Street briefing room that Johnson spent almost £3 million of public money renovating before scrapping his media briefing plan altogether.
Boris Johnson has overseen multiple failures on LGBT+ rights
The Christmas party scandal is just the latest in a long string of controversies that all have had one thing in common: Boris Johnson.
The LGBT+ community did not expect much of a prime minister who once described gay men as “tank-topped bum boys” and compared same-sex marriage to bestiality, but even so, Boris Johnson has overseen a multitude of failures on LGBT+ rights since he became prime minister in 2019.
While countries around the world move to ban conversion therapy, more than three years after a Tory promise to ban the cruel practice, it is still legal in the UK.
Johnson stalled time and time again on a conversion therapy, insisting that more research was needed and that a ban would be “technically complex”.
When a consultation document finalised materialised, Johnson’s government had outlined alarming religious exemptions and exemptions for “consenting adults”.
The UK’s LGBT+ community has long called for Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform, to streamline the complicated and invasive process of legal gender recognition.
According to a public consultation on proposed changes to the GRA launched by Theresa May’s government in 2018, the public showed broad support for reforming the process.
But Johnson’s government only released these results in September, 2020, before announcing that it was scrapping plans for GRA reform completely.
Under Johnson, anti-LGBT+ hate crimes have soared, and his government’s opposition to self-identification for trans folk has been cited as a factor in the surge of anti-trans rhetoric in the UK media.
In the wake of Brexit, during a global pandemic, and amid a sleaze scandal, Boris Johnson has disappointed time and time again
In recent months, Boris Johnson has found himself at the centre of a sleaze scandal, with revelations about MPs breaching lobbying rules and having second jobs, the handing of COVID contracts to those with political connections, and Johnson himself spending £200,000 of taxpayers money on his flat during a global pandemic.
Instead of immediately committing to a crackdown on sleaze, Johnson ordered MPs to vote against suspending MP Owen Paterson, who was lobbying on behalf of two companies and raking in more than £100,000, and support overhauling the entire standards process.
According to the Independent, Labour leader Keir Starmer said at the time that Johnson was “a prime minister whose name is synonymous with sleaze, dodgy deals and hypocrisy”, adding: “The rot starts at the top.
“This is the man who allows his ministers to breach with impunity the codes that govern public life; who thinks it should be one rule for him and his chums another for everyone else.”
Johnson has also failed on multiple counts during the pandemic, leading the UK in its COVID response which, in its early months, was labelled shameful compared to much of the world.
During a global pandemic, Johnson has also failed to protect the NHS in the wake of Brexit, even breaking his “cast iron guarantee” that the NHS would not be at risk from a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, with Tory MPs voting this year against protecting the health service from being sold off.
Even in recent weeks, Johnson has been pictured on hospital wards without a face covering, even after being reminded of the expectation, as if he could somehow have forgotten.
His cabinet are in the middle of multiple attacks on human rights, including a borders bill that would impact LGBT+ asylum seekers negatively and would give the Home Office the chilling right to strip people of British citizenship without notice. He has overseen bids to clamp down on the right to protest, as well as the continued deportation of people to the Caribbean in the wake of the Windrush scandal.
So really, should we be surprised any more?