The Prime Minister will not receive another fine for the series of events and activities in Downing Street that he attended. 128 fixed penalty notices have been issued and 28 individuals have been fined from two to five times.
This begins to draw an end to an unedifying period in British political life but it does not yet bring it to a final conclusion. The next big event is the publication of the report by the senior Civil Servant, Sue Gray. At the time of writing, I can only anticipate that it will be in a few days.
Even when it is published, it is likely that there will be outstanding questions especially as to whether the Sue Gray report will contain all of the photographs of the various parties and gatherings. The press are likely to have copies of many of them so I expect they will be slowly filtered out now that the official parts of the enquiry have drawn to an end.
Two particular questions will need to be answered. The Labour leader’s future will be influenced by the fate of the Prime Minister. If Boris Johnson survives then so will Keir Starmer whose ‘beer with Keir’ event was less sensational than the series of events in Downing Street. Durham Police will likely take their lead from the Metropolitan Police. Secondly, people around the country who have received a fixed penalty notice will question whether they have been treated in the same way as the Prime Minister and if double standards have been applied by different police forces over the coronavirus rules. There may still be many reverberations yet to come but the position of the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition will soon be settled.
An area of life that is becoming less settled every day that passes is to do with the cost of living. The Chancellor should have retained the £20 per week Universal Credit increase that was brought in during the pandemic and he should have used the Spring Statement to introduce measures to cut tax and support families.
The coronavirus and associated lockdowns cost the country a fortune, disrupted health services, took children out of education and is going to take years to recover from. I remember Conservative politicians being shouted down when they raised concerns over how many small family businesses were forced to permanently shutdown during the lockdowns but we knew that all of the costs would have to be paid back.
Those politicians who shouted loudest then are the ones who have now forgotten the experiences of the last two years and cannot understand why the cost of living is going up and so many public services are still recovering.
Perhaps, if Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer both understood and followed the rules, they would have eased our return to normality sooner and begun our recovery quicker.
This article was originally published in the Leigh Journal on May 27th 2022: https://www.leighjournal.co.uk/news/20172543.pandemic-associated-lockdo…