Matthew Taylor

Sunday shows round-up: ‘It looks like’ Boris was breaking the law

Sunday shows round-up: ‘It looks like’ Boris was breaking the law
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If it looked like the Prime Minister was in trouble last week, it seems that was just the tip of the iceberg. The latest needle in Boris Johnson’s side is a photo splashed in the Daily Mirror which shows him hosting a Christmas quiz on December 15 last year. At the time, the capital was placed under Tier 2 restrictions, forbidding social get-togethers indoors for anyone outside their pre-agreed support bubble. The video has raised questions about the legality of the Prime Minister’s actions, and undermined his claims not to have known about any parties taking place within Downing Street, since staff are reported to have played along in teams and stayed well on into the evening. The Labour leader Keir Starmer joined Andrew Marr and condemned the Prime Minister’s actions, though stopped short of calling for his resignation:

AM: Was he breaking the law?

KS: It looks as though he was… He’s damaged his authority… He’s the worst possible leader at the worst possible time.

Labour ‘will show leadership’ in supporting government’s Plan B

The government has made itself unpopular on its own backbenchers with its latest raft of ‘Plan B’ proposals to control the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, which include Covid passports, enforced use of masks in most indoor spaces, and a requirement for NHS staff to be vaccinated. Marr challenged Starmer on why he was not taking advantage of a divided Conservative party:

KS: We have always acted in the public interest during this pandemic… We will show the leadership that the Prime Minister is not able to show.

Nadhim Zahawi – Boris was ‘respecting the lockdown rules’

The Education Secretary was sent out to bat on the Prime Minister’s behalf, and had the following lively exchange with Trevor Phillips. Zahawi insisted that Johnson did not have any knowledge of any partying at the time, and that the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case would be conducting a full investigation into the matter:

NZ: We see a Prime Minister on a virtual quiz night… to thank his staff… respecting the lockdown rules…

TP: …He was sitting next to two people!

NZ: Actually, I think people will look at that picture… and will think… is that really a terrible crime?

‘There is no plan at the moment’ to vaccinate primary school children

At the end of November, it was recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that school children aged 12 – 15 should be encouraged to get Covid jabs. Phillips asked if this would be extended any further. Zahawi said that the matter was being looked at:

NZ: There is no plan at the moment to vaccinate primary school children, for the reason that the JCVI is still looking at the evidence as to what level of protection that would offer those children.

‘I will do everything in my power’ to keep schools open

The Education Secretary also promised to do his utmost to keep schools open should the UK find itself experiencing severe restrictions once more, but stopped short of a cast-iron guarantee:

NZ: We are absolutely working to make sure that all schools will are open [and] protected… I will do everything in my power.

Steve Baker – UK is creating a ‘miserable dystopia’ with Plan B measures

Steve Baker, the influential Conservative backbencher who has been a staunch anti-lockdown campaigner, told Phillips why he was going to vote against the majority of the government’s ‘Plan B’ measures. He argued that he felt compelled to relaunch the Conservative Way Forward group to help muster opposition to the changes:

SB: I think what we’re doing now is creating a miserable dystopia into which we’re going forward… We need to create movement… that is in favour of freedom and responsibility.

Susan Hopkins – ‘I have not had a report of death yet’

And finally, Dr Susan Hopkins, the Chief Medical Advisor at the UK Health Security Agency, spoke to Marr about the Omicron variant. She confirmed that so far there had been no deaths from the new strain, despite its rapid growth, but warned that there could be a lag effect of a few weeks:

SH: I have not had a report of death yet… I think it’s too early to make any assumptions at this point in time.

Written byMatthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor reviews the Sunday politics shows for The Spectator

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