OPINION: Prime Minister no longer seems to know where truth ends and lie begins

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at the Downing Street press conference confirming the move to 'Plan B'.

PM Boris Johnson is facing increasing pressure - Credit: BBC News

One of the joys of the Christmas season is receiving cards from old friends.

Often, it is the only time we hear from them during the year but, due to that other tradition, the round robin letter, we still have a good idea of what they and their family have been up to.

One round robin we have just received was particularly poignant.

Talking about last year it said: “Before Christmas we exchanged presents with our daughter and her husband and grandsons in a lorry park in the cold and rain, unable to hug.”

This was the experience of most of us last year – unable to share Christmas with loved ones because of the restrictions in place.

Most of us obeyed the rules. Our friends could have got away with a small hug with their family in a lorry park in the middle of nowhere – no one would have seen – but they didn’t because they understood that the rules were there to keep us safe from Covid.

Theirs was one of the millions of sacrifices people made last year.

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Some, of course, made much bigger ones – unable to see or say goodbye to loved ones before they died.

It’s hard to convey the feeling of anger and disgust to hear that the people who put those rules in place seemingly rode roughshod over them, repeatedly and without a second thought.

To see and hear Boris Johnson’s press officers laughing as they tried to come up with an excuse for an illegal party was sickening.

While we were making sacrifices to keep others safe, it seems like every night was party night in Downing Street and Whitehall.

This didn’t happen by accident. The direction of the Government is set by the person at the top.

Boris Johnson has never felt himself constrained by the rules that the rest of us have to follow. He has told lies throughout his career but has got away with it so often that it now comes as easy as breathing.

He told Parliament – with a straight face – that he didn’t believe a party had taken place, but he was getting the Cabinet Secretary to investigate it anyway. He was unable to confirm that the Cabinet Secretary hadn’t attended that same party which he says didn’t happen.

He accepted the resignation of his press officer for joking about the supposedly non-existent party. He didn’t accept the resignation of his Head of Communications who admits he did attend the same non-existent party.

He has lied so many times that he now no longer knows where the truth ends, and the lie begins.

And this is happening at a time when we need, more than ever, to trust the people running our country.

The Omicron variant of Covid is a very serious development.

It is much more infectious than Delta. Many more people will catch it and, even if it puts a smaller proportion in hospital – which we still don’t know – a smaller percentage of a huge number is still a very big number and may be more than the already under pressure NHS can cope with.

Our best hope is to get as many people as possible triple-jabbed, but we need to slow Omicron’s spread while this happens.

The extra “Plan B” measures are the absolute minimum necessary, but there are already signs that fewer people will follow them after the appalling example set by Boris Johnson’s government.

We are about to see the deadly consequences of having a Prime Minister who believes that it’s one rule for us and no rules for him.

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