Boris Johnson

Metropolitan Police Considering Labour MPs’ Complaint About Downing Street Christmas Party

The Metropolitan Police is weighing up whether to investigate “retrospective breaches” of Covid laws amid calls for an investigation of a No 10 Christmas party held during 2020’s restrictions. BBC News has more.

The party took place on December 18th, with a source telling the BBC that “several dozen” people attended.

However, Covid restrictions in place at the time banned such events.

The PM, who was not at the party, said no Covid rules were broken but No 10 has not said how party-goers complied.

A source who attended the event told the BBC that party games were played, food and drink were served, and the party went on past midnight.

The Mirror newspaper, which was the first to report the claims, also said Boris Johnson gave a speech at a “packed leaving do” for an aide on November 27th, when the country was in its second lockdown and socialising was banned.

Writing separately to Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick on Friday, Labour MPs Neil Coyle and Barry Gardiner called for a full investigation into whether or not any laws had been broken.

Sharing his letter on Twitter, Coyle, the MP for Bermondsey and Southwark, in south London, said from reading the guidance, he believed “holding these events was a breach of the rules at the time”.

He said: “Like most constituents, I followed the rules and did not see my own dad last Christmas and, sadly, it was to be his last.

“The sense of outrage from constituents is palpable that they followed the rules whilst those responsible for devising and enforcing them were breaching them at the top of Government.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Guardian has the same story on its live Coronavirus blog.

In the U.K., the Metropolitan Police have said they are considering complaints from Labour MPs that Boris Johnson and his No 10 staff held Christmas parties in breach of Covid regulations.

Labour backbenchers Neil Coyle and Barry Gardiner have each written to Scotland Yard asking police to investigate reports that two parties were held in the run-up to last Christmas at a time when such gatherings were banned.

Johnson has not denied the events took place but said no rules were broken – although he has repeatedly refused to explain how that could be the case.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said that while it did not routinely investigate “retrospective” breaches of the Covid regulations, it was considering the correspondence it had received.

On Wednesday, the Daily Mirror reported the prime minister gave a speech at a packed leaving-do for a senior aide last November when the country was in the midst of the second lockdown.

Omicron is an Anagram of Moronic – Which Helps Explain the Government’s Idiotic New Measures to Curb the Spread of the New Virus

At a special Downing Street press conference convened at 5pm, the Prime Minister announced that face coverings would become mandatory in shops and on public transport and everyone arriving in the U.K. would have to take a PCR test, regardless of their vaccination status, in an effort to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant. BBC News has a summary:

* PM says anyone arriving in the UK will be asked to take a PCR test for COVID-19 on the second day
* They would then have to self isolate until they provide a negative test, he says
* Rules on face coverings will be tightened up in shops and public transport, with a review in three weeks

Rather confusingly, Chris Whitty said there was a “reasonable chance” the new variant can partially escape the Covid vaccines and, in the next breath, said it was therefore very important for people to get the booster jab. Eh?

So, if I’ve understood the Government’s reasoning correctly, because two cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in England, it’s essential that as many people as possible should get a booster of a vaccine that is already largely ineffective against the spread of the Delta variant and is even less effective at preventing the spread of this new variant. Clear? Oh, and in addition masks are now going to be mandatory on public transport and in shops, but not in pubs, bars or restaurants because, as any fule know, the Omicron variant poses no threat to people eating or drinking. And this new mask mandate has been imposed in spite of the fact that there’s little robust evidence that tight-fitting, disposable, surgical masks do anything to suppress infection, let alone loose-fitting, multi-use, cloth masks.

Is this a new low in Government idiocy? Has anyone else noticed than ‘Omicron’ is an anagram of ‘Moronic’?

Stop Press: Read Michael Curzon’s reaction to the Downing Street briefing at Bournbrook.

Ministers Believe Boris’s Freedom Day ‘Gamble’ has Paid Off

According to this morning’s Mail on Sunday, ministers privately believe that falling Covid infection levels in the U.K. – and rising cases on the continent – amount to a vindication of Boris Johnson’s decision to release lockdown restrictions earlier than European countries like Germany and the Netherlands, currently in the grip of surging infections.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that about one in 60 people in England had Covid in the week to November 6th – down from one in 50 the previous week.

Government sources are pointing to the contrast with Germany, which is in the grip of a devastating fourth wave with the number of confirmed daily cases quadrupling in a month.

The Netherlands has returned to a three-week partial lockdown after its prime minister, Mark Rutte, said: “The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere.”

The move was greeted by anger on the streets of The Hague on Friday night as demonstrators hurled stones, fireworks and bicycles.

Riot police retaliated by firing water cannon after warnings that hospitals would be overwhelmed without closing bars, restaurants and supermarkets early. Austria is also set to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people.

The UK is in a different position and yesterday Professor Neil Ferguson said Britain was “in quite a different situation from those European countries”.

The epidemiologist, dubbed Professor Lockdown for his modelling that influenced the first UK shutdown, added: “I think it is unlikely we will get anything close to what we had last year, that catastrophic winter wave.

“We might see slow increases as we did in October, for instance, but not anything as rapid as we saw last year.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he continued: “We can’t be complacent, but at the moment I don’t think we’ll be in a situation the Netherlands is coming into where they really do need to get on top of rising case numbers using social distancing. I very much hope we can avoid that in this country.”

Worth reading in full, although if Imperial’s answer to Mystic Meg is predicting clear skies it may be time to batten down the hatches.

Why Boris Has Gone Gaga For ‘Build Back Better’

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We’re publishing a guest post by an academic economist about why Boris, who used to be a borderline climate change sceptic, has passionately embraced a ‘Net Zero’ agenda. Could it be because he wants to curry favour with Joe Biden?

Many of his supporters are dismayed that Boris Johnson seems to be buying in so deeply to the hardcore green agenda. This is doubly so when we consider how this agenda might overlap with the powers the Government has accrued over the course of repeated lockdowns. You need not be a full-throated believer in the coming Great Reset to see that green activists are angling to leverage these new powers to impose their radical program on the population.

Those that are dismayed by this latest evolution of Johnson’s politics have been scrambling for an answer. Johnson does not personally seem like an enthusiast for hard green policies. Yes, he used to bike around London as mayor – but this hardly indicated that he was interested in the more totalitarian aspects of the green agenda.

Some have turned to the influence of Johnson’s latest wife: Carrie Symonds. The profile fits. Symonds seems like a squishy ‘right-thinking’ London liberal with an instinct finely-tuned to get as close to power as possible. Sorry Boris, but she probably did not marry you for your looks or your dependability.

In what follows I am not dismissing this personal dimension but think that it needs to be viewed in a broader context. Johnson may bend to Carrie’s will behind closed doors, but this cannot explain why the whole Tory Party has painted itself green.

Does Boris’s Megalomania Conceal a Smidgen of Libertarian Sentiment?

We’re publishing a guest post today by David McGrogan, a professor at Northumbria Law School and Daily Sceptic regular. He is gradually coming round to the idea that beneath Boris’s megalomaniacal lust for power there is a smidgen of libertarian sentiment.

He didn’t know we were at war, and wouldn’t have cared if he had. But I have made my peace with Boris.

This time last year, we had just been “plunged” (I feel duty bound to use this word) into the second full-on national lockdown, and my view of the Government had reached its nadir. It seemed to be hypnotised by opinion poll results which its own messaging had created, victims of a grotesque feedback loop whereby the fears of the population fuelled ever more fear-inducing restrictions. Either that, or the Government had fallen under the sway of a small coterie of scientific advisors whose own groupthink had rendered them incapable of anything other than worst-case scenario planning. Worse, certain high-profile members of the Cabinet seemed to be positively enjoying themselves: the sparkle in their eyes as they appeared on our TV screens hinted at deep wells of authoritarianism lying just below the surface of their placid faces.

But I am now convinced that, although we are not Sweden (the Lionel Messi of public health responses to Covid), we are in a better place than almost any other society. Yes, depressingly, in Scotland and Wales vaccine passports have been introduced and mandatory face-covering is still in place indoors. But life in England is pretty much back to, if not the old normal, then something close to it. We can go to pubs, restaurants, theatres and sports stadiums as we used to. Most of us haven’t worn a mask in months. Kids are in school. Students are on campus. Places of worship are open. Shopping centres are brimming with pre-Christmas energy. Better, we’ve stopped obsessing over the figures – “case” numbers have finally begun to lose the sway they once had over the public mood.

No, things are not as readers of this website would wish it. But compare our situation to that in France or Italy, where vaccines are near-compulsory and mask-wearing entrenched. Or Australia – zero-Covid hell. Or New Zealand, which has merrily embraced becoming a “two-tier society”. Or Austria, which has threatened to lockdown the un-vaccinated, Latvia (back under full lockdown), or Japan and South Korea (where everybody wears a mask every moment of the day they are not in their own homes). Imagine living in the U.S., where a doddering tyrant of a President clings onto Covid authoritarianism as his last best hope to display leadership (although some states have defiantly lifted all restrictions).

By the world’s standards, we have actually muddled our way through the pandemic with our “old normal” relatively intact. And this should, after all, be the bar by which success is judged. Negotiating to a position of living with the pathogen with one’s society unscathed is what pandemic management is all about. We seem to have almost got there. Most countries still appear to be largely stuck in the mindset that dealing with a pandemic means eliminating the pathogen and abolishing death, and, as we now know, in that direction lies nothing but madness.

Thank God that’s not us. And, while you’re at it, it may be worth thanking Boris, albeit through gritted teeth. He has revealed himself to be a very cynical politician over the last two years, adept at manipulating and responding to public opinion. At every stage, he seems to have judged the public mood to be going one way and leapt aboard, flinging principle in the dustbin en route. But what has been revealed since restrictions were lifted in July is that his inner sentiments are in favour of old fashioned, Cavalier-ish English liberty, as he has always liked to imply. In the white heat of March 2020, or winter last year, with the media baying relentlessly for lockdown and the scientists putting out a relentless tsunami of bleak forecasts, he allowed his hand to be forced. But now there is some wiggle-room he is erring in the right direction: toward personal freedom. We ought to be fair to him and give him some credit for that; we all know that if Keir Starmer was in charge things would look very different indeed.

Robert Caro, probably the greatest political biographer of the last 100 years, likes to say that “power reveals”. Once somebody has attained a position to do what they would like to do and to impose their decisions on others, you finally get to see what they are really like. The period 2020-2021 has revealed Boris to be almost nihilistic in his desire to retain power – a chameleon of principle. But it has also shown that there is a foundation of libertarian sentiment somewhere in the depths of his psyche. If I were being very optimistic I might even push the point and suggest that, since it is our electoral system that resulted in him being PM, our society shares that sentiment – at least more than many other countries – too. I wouldn’t have suggested any such thing in April 2020. But stepping out of my front door into an England that feels free once more, I can say it now.

There’s No Reason to Plunge the U.K. Into A Christmas Lockdown, Boris Johnson Declares

The Prime Minister has stated that there is currently “no evidence” to implement a Christmas lockdown, despite what Sky News calls a “rise” in Covid cases. (In fact, they’re falling.) Johnson also said that, instead of new restrictions, members of the public should receive a booster jab when they are offered the opportunity, admitting that the effectiveness of the first two jabs does “start to wane” after a time. Sky News has the story.

Speaking to reporters during his trip to Rome for the G20 summit, Johnson once again insisted ministers are sticking with the current plan to tackle Covid and there is no reason to activate the Government’s ‘Plan B’.

Asked if he could guarantee a good Christmas, he said: “I see no evidence whatever to think that any kind of lockdown is on the cards.”

His comments come after the NHS Confederation, the British Medical Association and scientists called on the Government to take steps to ease the growing pressure on the health service.

Covid infections have risen across the U.K., with recent Office for National Statistics estimates showing the same proportion of people in England have the virus as at the peak of the second wave in January.

However, hospitalisations and deaths remain well below the levels seen earlier this year – in part due to the vaccine rollout which has seen 45.7 million people fully vaccinated.

Worth reading in full.

Now is Not the Time for a U-Turn Prime Minister

I’ve written a piece for Mail+ urging Boris not to waiver in his resistance to the hysterical chorus screaming for more Covid restrictions. Here is an extract:

The drum beat for more Covid restrictions reached a deafening roar last week with the head of the NHS Confederation, Matthew Taylor, demanding the government implement ‘Plan B’ to avert a ‘crisis’ within the NHS. That meant mandatory mask wearing, vaccine passports and working from home.

He was soon joined by trade union leaders like Frances O’Grady, scientific advisors like Professor Adam Finn and politicians like Keir Starmer.

All the usual suspects toured the radio and television studios, urging the Prime Minister to spring into action to ‘save the NHS’ ahead of this year’s flu season, expected to be worse than usual.

But Boris Johnson held his nerve. He sent out his Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, to declare there would be no further lockdowns and his Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, held a press conference at Downing Street where he announced the government would be sticking to ‘Plan A’ for the time being.

And, once again, Boris’s instincts have proved correct. He ignored the doomsayers, just as he ignored Professor Neil Ferguson and Independent SAGE when they warned daily Covid cases would increase to 100,000 if ‘Freedom Day’ went ahead on July 19th and could go as high as 200,000. Instead of continuing to rise, cases have now started to fall of their own accord, just as they did over the summer.

Yesterday, the Department of Health reported 36,657 new cases in England in the previous 24 hours, down a quarter on last week’s peak and the second day in a row there’s been a week-on-week drop. The number of registered deaths of people who’d tested positive in the previous 28 days was 38, down 16% on last Monday.

Worth reading in full.

Boris Admits the Vaccine “Doesn’t Protect You Against Catching the Disease, and It Doesn’t Protect You Against Passing it On”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted that the Covid vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission. Speaking to reporters on a visit to a Covid vaccination centre in London on Friday, the Prime Minister said that double vaccination provides “a lot of protection against serious illness and death” but does not protect against “catching the disease” or “passing it on”. Has he been reading the Daily Sceptic?

His message was to underline the importance of boosters:

So the message is that the boosters are fantastic. The levels of protection are really very high, but it’s also very, very important that you get one because the double vaccination provides a lot of protection against serious illness and death but it doesn’t protect you against catching the disease, and it doesn’t protect you against passing it on. So now is the time to get your booster.

But if being double-vaccinated doesn’t prevent you being infected or transmitting the virus after just a few months, why will a booster be much better? Why is it so important to prevent transmission and infection through boosters anyway, when protection against serious illness and death is holding up well and that’s all that really matters?

Another question for the Prime Minster: What now is the point of vaccine passports and mandates? Why sack hundreds of thousands of care home workers and health care staff who decline vaccination, most of whom have served faithfully throughout the pandemic, if vaccination makes no difference to how infectious you are and so does not protect others?

Now that the Prime Minister himself has let the cat out of the bag on the vaccines not preventing spread, will the media start reporting on this data properly? And will the Government now join the dots and abandon vaccine coercion? We can but hope.

Leaked Documents Reveal Chancellor’s Concerns about Cost of Moving Towards a Zero-Carbon Economy

Leaked documents obtained by the Observer reveal deep concerns within the Treasury about the economic cost of moving towards a zero-carbon economy. The Chancellor is worried that additional costs from green initiatives would push companies to move production elsewhere.

As Johnson prepares to position the U.K. at the head of global efforts to combat climate change and curb greenhouse gas emissions as host of the Glasgow COP26 meeting, the documents show the Treasury is warning of serious economic damage to the U.K. economy and future tax rises if the U.K. overspends on, or misdirects, green investment.

Green experts said the “half-baked” and “one-sided” Treasury net-zero review presented only the costs of action on emissions, rather than the benefits, such as green jobs, lower energy bills and avoiding the disastrous impact of global heating. They said the review could be “weaponised” by climate-change deniers around the world before COP26, undermining Johnson’s attempts at climate leadership on the global stage.

The internal Treasury documents say that while there may be economic benefits to U.K. companies from swift and appropriate climate action, there is also a danger that economic activity could move abroad if firms found their costs were increasing by more than those of their overseas competitors.

The leaked papers are understood to have been produced to accompany a slide show given confidentially to key groups outside Government in the last month. The documents state: “The investment required to decarbonise the U.K. economy is uncertain but could help to improve the U.K.’s relatively low investment levels and increase productivity.

“However, more green investment is likely to attract diminishing returns, reducing the positive impact of ever more investment on GDP. Some green investments could displace other, more productive, investment opportunities. If more productive investments are made earlier in the transition, this risk may be accentuated later in the transition.”

On the risk of additional costs to companies from green initiatives, the documents say: “Climate action in the U.K. can lead to economic activity moving abroad if it directly leads to costs increasing, and it is more profitable to produce in countries with less stringent climate policies.”

On the fiscal implications, the documents say the cost of moving towards net zero could mean tax rises because of “the erosion of tax revenue from fossil fuel-related activity”. They say: “The Government may need to consider changes to existing taxes and new sources of revenue throughout the transition in order to deliver net zero sustainably, and consistently with the government’s fiscal principles.”

Worth reading in full.

Prime Minister Accused of Breaking Lockdown Rules Last Christmas

Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie have been accused of breaking lockdown rules last Christmas by allowing a friend to stay at Number 10 while other Londoners were told not to meet up with different households. The Mail has the story.

The Prime Minister denied claims in the U.S. Harper’s Magazine that political campaigner Nimco Ali “spent Christmas with the couple at Number 10 despite pandemic restrictions on holiday gatherings”.

The article also said that Mrs. Johnson “modelled” her wardrobe and public image on the Duchess of Cambridge, but is “bitter” that the duchess gets better publicity.

Spokesmen for the Prime Minister and Mrs. Johnson said both claims were untrue.

The 4,500-word profile of the couple says Mrs. Johnson has “assembled an impressive court around her” while the PM is a “lonely figure” and “quite scared” of her. …

The Harper’s article is written by Lara Prendergast, Executive Editor of the Spectator magazine, edited by Mr. Johnson before he entered politics and which has strong links to Downing Street.

In the piece she describes how she put her claims over the Christmas gathering to Number 10. She says that a spokesman told her “the Prime Minister and Mrs. Johnson follow coronavirus rules at all times” – but did not deny the claim.

She adds that Miss Ali, godmother to the Johnsons’ son Wilfred, “did not respond to repeated requests for comment”.

Last Christmas, London was under ‘Tier Four’ restrictions, meaning people should not have mixed with anyone outside their households, except in support and childcare bubbles.

Worth reading in full.