Boris Johnson didn’t wear a mask while in a hospital – he’s laughing in all our faces

The strange thing is that it’s not even as though our dear leader hasn’t had Covid himself – he was in intensive care not all that long ago

Victoria Richards
Tuesday 09 November 2021 09:34 GMT
‘There he was, ol’ Boris de Pfeffel, Jack-the-ladding his way through an NHS ward’
‘There he was, ol’ Boris de Pfeffel, Jack-the-ladding his way through an NHS ward’ (PA)

We might have been shocked, but were any of us honestly surprised to see Boris Johnson’s gurning smile being wafted – maskless; in full view – around the corridors of a hospital in Northumbria?

There he was, ol’ Boris de Pfeffel, Jack-the-ladding his way through an NHS ward, doing the double finger guns (probably) to doctors and nurses and porters and midwives, having some good “bants” as he elbow-bumped the medics who have been responsible for saving us all, actually, over the past 18 months... with his mouth and nose entirely uncovered.

It’s not like he hasn’t got form here. Just days ago, the prime minister acted similarly obnoxiously when he was pictured dozing off – maskless – at the opening ceremony of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, sitting next to Sir David Attenborough, the nation’s sweetheart, 95-years-old-and-counting and (ergo) at pretty high risk of Covid. You’d have thought Johnson might’ve considered that.

The strange thing is that it’s not as though our dear leader hasn’t had it himself – Johnson contracted the virus earlier this year and was looked after by a similar raft of doctors and nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, where he was moved to intensive care after his symptoms worsened.

The prime minister knows the ravages of this particular disease, understands how debilitating it can be, or at least he should, what with Covid-related deaths up 16 per cent in England as hospital admissions hit their highest rate since February; and warnings that the UK is more vulnerable to a winter Covid surge than our European neighbours, thanks to high infection rates and flagging vaccination coverage.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment sign up to our free weekly Voices newsletter by clicking here

Plan B isn’t even off the table – in fact, it’s still there under the hot plate, piping hot, just waiting to be served.

So, given Johnson knows the risks – and the results of actually getting this thing, not to mention the added dangers to the immuno-compromised, such as (just taking a punt, here) those in a hospital ward – then what, honestly, is he playing at? And why?

Let’s be frank: it looks a hell of a lot like belligerance. Johnson could easily be accused of playing to the crowd – it’s no coincidence that Tory MPs have been the ones refusing to wear masks in the Commons (Jacob Rees-Mogg has said it is because they “know each other”, despite Sajid Javid’s surprise advice to the contrary).

But the crucial thing is that actions have consequences, as Johnson should realise. As my colleague John Rentoul has written here, you can be as defiant and devil-may-care as you like – but you won’t get away with it forever. And neither will those he keeps talking to without a mask.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in