Northern Ireland news

Analysis: Boris Johnson reacts like he's merely been caught smoking at Eton

Boris Johnson. Picture by House of Commons/PA Wire 

THE SUE Gray investigation and report was always likely to be a distraction that only underlines the farcical nature of the British government’s response to this egregious and unnecessarily drawn out controversy.

Its remit was dictated by Boris Johnson not in an effort to get to a truth he already knew but to buy time and create a smokescreen for the Tory leader to hide behind.

It's an approach that ensures every day he continues in office demeans further the institutions he represents.

The as yet fully explained intervention of the Metropolitan Police diluted the report’s impact and dragged out coverage but changed few minds.

Only the British prime minister’s most loyal allies – including the DUP – ever publicly doubted there were more than a dozen alcohol-fuelled parties in Downing Street while the rest of us endured unprecedented restrictions on our social lives and others buried their loved ones in almost isolation.

Ms Gray concedes that the criminal investigation meant she was "extremely limited" in how much her report could say, yet it says enough to leave little doubt that the prime minister breached the Covid rules he imposed and was complicit in others doing likewise.

There was a “failure of leadership and judgement ” and “too little thought” given to what the public was having to put up with. Incriminating, damning and acutely embarrassing yet the Tory leader reacts like he’s merely been caught smoking in his quarters at Eton.

His response yesterday was exactly as expected – failure to concede he consciously broke the rules and a failure to accept responsibility for his actions. He appears to be the only one that needs further evidence to confirm that regulations were breached and that he in turn misled fellow MPs as he explained and excused his behaviour.

Many of his Conservative colleagues already see through his pledge to fix the culture of chaos in Downing Street and it’s likely their number could grow over the coming days. Yet there are those like Secretary of State Brandon Lewis who continue to stand by a prime minister whose credibility is shot – their own standing diminishing with every expedient utterance of support.

As always, Labour leader Keir Starmer proved ineffectual from the opposition benches and it was left to Ian Blackford to express the public’s true disgust at Boris Johnson’s shameless tactics and continued denials, ironically leading to SNP Westminster leader's expulsion from the House of Commons. If his departure proves to be a metaphor for Scotland's future exit from the union, it will be clear where the blame lies.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news