Many people have written to me about the Downing Street parties during lockdown. I know people feel very strongly about it and I can understand why.
We all made huge sacrifices during lockdowns over the last two years. I know many people who took almost impossible decisions not to see dying relatives or comfort family members at a time of extreme loneliness and isolation. So the minimum we expected was that the people telling us to avoid social contact – in nightly televised press conferences – would be following the rules themselves.
Now that we see the Prime Minister and his inner circle were in fact routinely and callously flouting these rules. Incredibly, there were at least 16 parties during this period at 10 Downing Street and nearby buildings, including in the Prime Minister’s flat.
I think a lot of people feel cheated, or foolish, for following the rules that the Prime Minister thought only applied to the ‘little people.’ Please don’t feel bad for doing the right thing. It is only because the vast majority of people followed the rules that life is almost normal again.
Even if it were just the rule-breaking, I would say the Prime Minister should resign. But with every pathetic excuse, non-apology and lame attempt to shift the blame onto someone else, he is making it worse. It is almost painful seeing ministers tying themselves in knots trying to defend his lies.
Meanwhile, the government is paralysed. Instead of dealing with the cost of living crisis affecting people across the UK or confronting the threat of war in Ukraine, ministers are focused on getting Johnson off the hook. In one striking example of this, the Prime Minister had to cancel a call with Putin yesterday to take questions about parties. He needs to draw a line under this now – and that means coming clean with all the facts.
As Labour Leader Keir Starmer said in Parliament yesterday, “to govern this country is an honour. Not a birth-right. It’s an act of service to the British people… It requires honesty, integrity and moral authority.”
Boris Johnson has always been lacking in all these qualities. He must now resign. Please be assured that together with the rest of the Labour Party, I will keep calling for his resignation. If he refuses, and Tory MPs refuse to get rid of him, then I hope the British people will make the right choice at the next election and vote in Keir Starmer as Prime Minister.