Party? What party? Psst... There was no party! Would you call a bit of ‘wine and cheese’, a party? (like seriously?) It was a business meeting. And... yeah... (sniggering) there was no social distancing.
This is what I say to my mom when I reach home at 4 in the morning... with a hangover. This is of course, from the pre-pandemic period.
Except, the first paragraph you read is almost exactly what the former spokeswoman for the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, over reports alleging that the government held a party when the entire country was under a Covid-induced lockdown last year.
Allegra Stratton was rehearsing for a press conference. She was taking mock questions over reports of an alleged party held at 10, Downing Street, the official residence of the UK Prime Minister, 4 days after the said party.
Unfortunately or fortunately, this video was recorded in December 2020, and recently leaked by a news channel.
In the UK, PM Boris Johnson and his ‘mates’ are facing the heat for allegedly hosting a massive party or parties (we don’t know concretely yet) in December 2020, when parts of the country including London was under a strict lockdown.
?? | SUMMARY: What’s been reported:• Nov 13: Carrie hosts a flat party • Nov 27: PM attends leaving do and drinking session• Dec 10: Gavin Williamson hosts DFE party• Dec 18: Downing Street bash• Date Unclear: Xmas quizWhile the U.K. was locked down.— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) December 8, 2021
Yes, the UK government was busy partying when the country was going through a deadly Covid-19 wave. Folks were dying on the roads, stuck in lockdowns, trying to do their responsible bit, and frontline workers were working to the bone, but the government which was supposed to reel it all in, was partying.
Allegra Stratton recently stepped down as a government spokesperson in view of the leaked video. The video leak also prompted Boris Johnson to issue an apology in the House of Commons, along with a denial of it ever happening.
Yes, the world believes ya, Boris!
UK PM Boris Johnson in dock for allegedly partying in December 2020 during lockdown. Illustration: Seemon, DailyO
If Boris and team wanted to sweep it under the carpet, why did they have to record everything in the first place?
Though the scandal happened a year ago, the few recordings of government officials laughing at the incident, assured a leak.
Now, there’s a parliamentary investigation ordered. However, the refusal of the UK police chief or Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis Dame Cressida Dick to look into the matter has made matters worse.
FYI, if you are caught partying in the UK against Covid rules, you are fined a bomb. Unless, of course, you are at the Downing Street party.
Brits are justifiably angry that the government is behaving like an elitist bunch, for whom the laws don’t apply. Those who lost their loved ones to Covid-19 last year, are especially hurt by the insensitive behaviour of the government.
First up, here's a tweet by airline Ryanair, which did quite the job of taking Johnson to the cleaners. Their dig at the UK PM received a mixed response on Twitter, though, because some couldn't get the sarcasm in the said tweet.
The UK Covid Alert Level has been increased from Level 3 to Level 4 pic.twitter.com/7TTpwIDz98— Ryanair (@Ryanair) December 13, 2021
It seems especially true looking back; as the UK raised the level of alert from 1 to 5, the UK government seems to have partied as harder.
And then there are the other reactions on Twitter; most from furious Brits. Take a look:
I don’t care if 1000 Tories were having sex parties in Downing Street. My brother died because his carer couldn’t take time off work as sick pay didn’t cover the loss of earnings. This has not changed. It’s not parties killing people, it’s Tory policies. Grow up.— There’s No Point (@judeinlondon2) December 11, 2021
Boris Johnson in the UK made the rules but had no intentions on playing by them.
Now, Twitterati has come up with their own rendition of how the party looked like and others have trolled the UK government.
Literally absolutely no one:Downing Street: pic.twitter.com/jShi957P9V— Ben (@B___K_____) December 8, 2021
Others are taking some ‘wine and cheese’ - the now-infamous excuse given by Allegra Stratton, the former spokeswoman for PM Boris - to 10, Downing Street to party.
Today we went to Downing Street for a cheese and wine party. pic.twitter.com/xo7Opv8ip0— The National Covid Memorial Wall (@CovidMemorialUK) December 10, 2021
There's even an event marked on Facebook calling for partygoers to Downing Street. We don't know whether it's legit or not. But over 1,00,000 people have RSVP-ed yes, saying they are attending the party.
? | NEW: A Christmas rave is being organised at 10 Downing Street on Facebook - 123,000 people have already said they’re going or are interested pic.twitter.com/NOV70GQVId— News For All (@NewsForAllUK) December 8, 2021
Given the controversy, the UK government had to inadvertently cancel this year’s Christmas party at 10, Downing Street. I imagine Boris saying, “Well, there you go, you party poopers!”, or however the Brits say it.
Now, it sure seems like a hilarious story in hindsight. However, it has real-time ramifications. For one, surveys in the UK have revealed that post this news breaking out, people are more unlikely to follow Covid protocols.
If the government doesn't bother following the rules, why will they?
The leaked video comes at a time when the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire in the UK. The country also reported its first-ever death related to Omicron on December 13. It almost seems like the variant emerged in the UK, and not South Africa now.
Moreover, observational reports have revealed that Omicron cases were significantly detected from social gatherings.
The moral of the story is to keep the governments in check and ensure that they themselves follow the Covid protocols if they have any hope for the rest of the people to follow them to keep the pandemic under control.