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Politics Explained

Did Boris Johnson do anything wrong by cycling in the Olympic Park on Sunday?

The prime minister seemed to be interpreting the lockdown rules flexibly by travelling seven miles from Downing Street for exercise, writes John Rentoul

Tuesday 12 January 2021 23:34 GMT
Johnson launches a cycle superhighway as London mayor in 2015
Johnson launches a cycle superhighway as London mayor in 2015 (Getty)

It would have been Allegra Stratton’s second day of televised briefings as the prime minister’s press secretary yesterday, if the start of White House-style news conferences hadn’t been postponed. So the nation did not get to see her answering questions about one subject that particularly interested journalists, which she did on a telephone conference call instead. 

“You all know how much he loves his bike,” she said, when asked if the prime minister regretted going on a bike ride in the Olympic Park in east London on Sunday. “I can’t comment on where the prime minister exercises, for security reasons,” she said when asked if he would be doing it again. “It was in accordance with the guidelines.” 

She and the civil service spokesperson took it in turns to answer, or not to answer, questions such as: was Boris Johnson driven to the Olympic Park, seven miles from Downing Street; will the government be issuing a more specific definition of what “local” means in the guidance about staying local; was there anyone with him on a bike in the park; can anyone go to someone else’s garden for exercise, in the way the prime minister goes to the garden of Buckingham Palace? 

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