OPINION: Boris Johnson has made Britain a laughing stock

Prime minister Boris Johnson

Prime minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. - Credit: PA

It is hard to express in words the contempt most people feel for Boris Johnson right now.

Following weeks of revelations about rule-breaking Downing Street parties before Christmas, it was hard to believe that there was still more to come out – and that it would be even more shocking.

After a series of increasingly implausible denials, last week saw hard evidence come to light in the form of an email invitation to a “bring your own booze” party in 10 Downing Street.

Faced with the incontrovertible proof that he was personally implicated in a party that broke his own rules, Boris Johnson did the only thing he could and the thing that comes most naturally to him: he lied.

We are expected to believe: that he didn’t know anything about the invitation but that he still managed to attend the party he didn’t know anything about. However, it was only for a little bit and, at the time – despite there being trestle tables groaning with food and alcohol – he thought it was a “work event”.

He now realises – purely with the benefit of hindsight of course – that this was against the rules, and he perhaps ought to have put a stop to it rather than joining in enthusiastically.

Based on such a pack of lies the “apology” he gave was worthless and certainly not, as some of his more sycophantic Conservative colleagues claim, “sincere”.

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But, as bad as this was, the truly shocking revelation was about not one, but two, rule-breaking parties the evening before Prince Philip’s funeral.

The details – a suitcase full of alcohol, a DJ in the basement, the drunken breaking of a child’s swing – should leave no one in any doubt that these raucous “gatherings” were against the rules. That they should happen on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral shows a breath-taking lack of respect.

The picture of the Queen at the funeral of her husband of 74 years – sitting on her own, obeying the rules to the letter – was unbearably poignant but, for many of us, was the ultimate sign that this was a unified national effort to defeat Covid. That we were all making sacrifices and genuinely were all in it together.

What idiots Boris Johnson took us for. Clearly, the rules were only ever meant for other people, not for him. 
Boris Johnson has lost all moral authority to lead our country. He has debased the office of Prime Minister. He has made Britain a laughing stock. 

He has broken the rules again and again and he has lied and lied and lied. 

We don’t need a report by Sue Gray to tell us this. Neither does he. If he had a shred of human decency he would have resigned already. 

He won’t of course, which is why Conservative MPs need to put an end to this.

If they don’t care about the damage Boris Johnson is doing to our country, they should at least care about the damage being done to the Conservative Party. He is going to take them all down with him.

Some are beginning to speak out, but most are cravenly keeping their heads down. Normally so full of moral certainty about rule-breaking and disrespect for the monarchy, they now need a civil servant to tell them what to think.

They may regard keeping quiet as their least bad option, but it is an act of moral cowardice, and won’t save them anyway.

History will not judge kindly Conservative MPs who kept quiet in the face of such chaos and incompetence, and neither will voters.

- David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.