Starmer says Johnson spent time in the pandemic ‘nipping out of meetings’ to pick out wallpaper

Boris Johnson may not care about honesty and integrity – but the rest of us do

The prime minister and his team can repeat that ‘the people in the country are not interested in these issues’ – it won’t make them go away

Jess Phillips@jessphillips
Wednesday 28 April 2021 17:00

Did he say it, or didn’t he say it? I don’t know if Boris Johnson said, “no more fu*king lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands”. I can believe he did because he said that investigating historical childhood sexual abuse was “spaffing money up the wall”. He is no stranger to acting the hardman in the face of the hideous hurt, trauma and pain of the people he claims to represent.

Either he said it, or he allowed a man he is now accusing of being a malicious liar to lead the charge on Brexit – the biggest, most difficult shift our country has seen in a generation. Either Boris Johnson is a vicious heartless fool, or he has such poor judgement that he would allow Dominic Cummings, a man who is happy to smash his former friend’s life up, to have power over our lives. I think it is both.

I think Boris Johnson and his team are liars, and I think they are all about to start doubling down on the lies, while they send junior ministers and hopeful backbenchers onto the telly to declare that “the people in the country are not interested in these issues,” as if the death of thousands of people that might have been prevented is just some “issue”.

The Tory party seems to think that the people don’t care about honesty; that they don’t care about tens of thousands of pounds given to Boris Johnson for the renovation of his flat; that they don’t care about friends and family of ministers having a sneaky back door for tax breaks and contracts.

What is odd is that the party seems to believe that the British public are incapable of caring about more than one thing at a time. But I am, for example, perfectly capable of caring about ensuring that the vaccine roll out in my area is done well and about sleazy text messages which afforded Boris Johnson’s friends privileges that the businesses in my constituency don’t have access to.

I can do all that while also caring about the hundreds of pictures of people, not bodies, that Covid-bereaved families have sent me this week. I cared about all of that while caring enough to push for final changes to the domestic abuse bill in parliament, while caring about my son’s assessments in lieu of his GCSEs, and while remembering that we needed dishwasher tablets.

Maybe all those Tory spokespeople going on the telly and saying the British public don’t care about the behaviour of our prime minister can themselves only care about one thing at a time – this might be why they seem to be showing quite such little regard to the thousands of families hurt by this week’s comments.

Maybe it was because Boris Johnson had to have a photo of himself having a beer in a pub that he hasn’t responded to the request of the bereaved family group, asking if he will visit the Covid memorial wall, which is less than a five minute walk from his office. Maybe he hasn’t responded to them and taken up their offer because he can only care about one thing at a time and this week he has a lot on his plate what with ringing round newspaper editors to complain that his old best friend is being a meanie.

But the British public does care when the fallouts of men with power lead to the behaviour of our prime minister being splashed across the papers. People do care that there is one rule for businesses owned by Tory donors and another for the business that they run and work for. They do care that the electoral commission is having to investigate if there has been financial impropriety because Boris Johnson cannot decide who paid for his £840 a roll wallpaper. The public cares about all of this, as well as wanting to get back to normal and to making sure they and their loved ones are vaccinated.

I think that the British public does want the government to focus on our health, our housing, our education and employment. I think that the British public does care about their deeply missed loved ones being referred to as “bodies”, but I think they care more about how they might still be here if things had been handled differently.

Now is the time for Boris Johnson to start honouring those who lost their lives. It’s not too much to ask that he does it while honouring the principles of good honest governance. If only he could multitask.

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