Lurching from crisis to scandal is no way to run a country

Editorial: Every day seems to bring fresh incontrovertible evidence of rule-breaking, and raises new questions about the probity of the prime minister’s personal behaviour

Tuesday 11 January 2022 21:30

There are three questions that Boris Johnson needs to answer, and upon which his premiership now rests. Did he break the Covid laws he himself was responsible for upholding, by approving or attending parties or gatherings on 20 May 2020? Did he subsequently lie to the House of Commons and the public about his behaviour? And does he take responsibility for what happened in the building where he lives and works?

He’s not answering. His defence, such as it is, has been to avoid scrutiny, buy time and delay. His response thus far to the “partygate” allegations is to deflect any questions by referring to the inquiry by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant. He used to, if pressed, repeat the mantra that rules were always followed, or that he was advised by others that they were, dismissing the issues as trivial. He seems to have moved on even from those excuses.

He now says as little as possible, though his smirk speaks volumes. Perversely, a fresh investigation by the Metropolitan Police may end up providing the prime minister with yet more time to escape his tormentors. His defences are tactical and procedural and legalistic.

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