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Opinion: Why Brits Are So Incredibly Angry at Boris Johnson

European leaders stream into Ukraine to show solidarity

  European leaders stream into Ukraine to show solidarity LONDON (AP) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Saturday joined the stream of European leaders showing their support for Ukraine by traveling to the nation’s capital for face-to-face meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Johnson’s surprise visit included a pledge of new military assistance, including 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems. This came a day after he promised to send an additional 100 million pounds ($130 million) of high-grade military equipment to Ukraine, saying Britain wanted to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.

On May 23, 2020, three days after Boris Johnson had the highly relatable experience of leaving his office to attend what he “implicitly” believed to be a “work event” in the garden of 10 Downing Street — only to find 30 or so of his staff standing around drinking and chatting in the early evening sunshine in what, with hindsight, he now thinks could be construed by the British public as an explicitly “social event” — I, too, had an awkward moment in a garden. For the first time I can recall, I relieved myself in the hawthorn bush next to Mum’s old vegetable patch.

Intelligencer. Photo: Getty Images © Intelligencer. Photo: Getty Images Intelligencer. Photo: Getty Images

In my defense, I had little choice but to engage in al fresco micturition. Believe it or not, in England in May 2020, I would have committed a criminal offense had I dared to quickly pop into the house in which I grew up to use the loo before getting in my car to drive home. But never mind the law. I and a fair few other Brits were of the view that entering the house for a few moments would be tantamount to recklessly endangering the lives of my beloved, immunocompromised parents. COVID-19 cases had peaked in March, but we remained terrified.

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  England Lifts Face Mask Mandate, Lets People Return to Offices as Omicron Cases Near Peak Official figures show that COVID-19 infections have dropped in most areas of the United Kingdom, but 94,432 new cases were recorded in England on Tuesday. Johnson told lawmakers that the ease of restrictions was due to government scientists believing the surge of infections was likely prompted by Omicron and the variant's cases "have now peaked nationally," according to the Associated Press.The restrictions were originally placed into effect in December to slow the spread of Omicron. The restrictions were also used as a way to buy time for the population to receive the booster vaccine, according to Johnson.

Still, driving down almost empty roads to my parents’ house that day as I cranked up “Thunder Road,” I truly did feel as if those two lanes could take me anywhere. As the PM’s most senior official noted in his now-infamous email advising staffers to “bring your own booze” to the No. 10 garden, we had been enjoying unseasonably “lovely weather.” More important, it was the first time since mid-March that I’d traveled anywhere at all. On order of Her Majesty’s Government, I hadn’t been more than half a mile from my house in London since mid-March. Until a slight relaxing of the rules was announced by the PM on May 10, it was a criminal offense for office workers like me to leave our houses for anything other than food shopping, essential medical appointments, or outside exercise, which could last no longer than one hour. I had spent two months almost entirely confined to my house with my girlfriend and our two children under the age of 3.

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Finally, we had been granted the opportunity to meet up with one other person outside as long as we maintained our distance. So here I was in my parent’s garden in leafy Surrey, enjoying a few slices of Mum’s tea cake for the first time since February.

Video: Omicron 'plainly milder'; new measures not needed, UK's Johnson says (Reuters)

As I attempted to do my best to apply the law to the fact of visiting my parents in the midst of a pandemic, many Brits were enduring the almost incomprehensible: watching on grainy Zoom footage as loved ones were buried or being informed by phone that a relative had died alone in a hospital ward. The majority of us who were spared such agonies felt (though it feels rather grandiose to say it now) our observance of the rules and regulations imposed on us might just go someway toward sparing others such miseries.

Judging by the multitude of social gatherings Johnson and his staff attended during various stages of lockdown, of which the garden party is merely one of the more egregious examples, our government was living on a different moral planet.

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In a tightly worded statement delivered to an uncharacteristically silent House of Commons on Wednesday, the PM said he knew the “rage” that people across the country felt toward him. His speechwriter chose the right word.

Johnson was well known to us when he entered No. 10 in 2019. An ill-disciplined licentious rogue, he had never claimed the mantle of moral authority. His shamelessness seemingly convinced people he was hiding a lot less than your average manicured, blue-suited politico. For all his lies, there was something almost honest about his refusal to abide by the staid conventions of public life.

But the pressures of governing the country in a public-health crisis transformed the PM from lovable rogue to priggish rural parson, nightly delivering moral homilies from his lectern inside No. 10 on the crushing moral responsibility we all bore for the health of our fellow countrymen. Ten days before his May “work gathering,” in a broadcast to the nation, the PM somberly intoned, “You must obey the rules on social distancing, and to enforce those rules, we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.”

The rogue may have been forgiven his hypocrisy: Of course he would be in the small minority who bends the rules. But it just feels a little too much to find the good vicar in the garden, glass in hand, when he had damned us all for dreaming of the same.

Boris Johnson refuses to resign despite post-'partygate' fallout .
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told members of Parliament Tuesday night that he would not be resigning despite mounting pressure after he was fined for violating the COVID-19 guidelines his administration put in place. Johnson argued he needed to remain in office to redouble efforts to combat Russian aggression in Ukraine and fix an economy rocked by the yearslong pandemic, rebuffing calls for him to step down amid the fallout for violating his own protocols.

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