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No 10 can’t keep breaking the rules

Matt Dunham/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Boris Johnson has started to treat the Cabinet to a “Soviet traffic system” of perks, says Hugo Rifkind in The Times. Just as you once got to dodge the Ladas as a member of the Politburo, now you get to dodge “the interminable Ping Cycle” if you’re Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove or the PM himself. Or, at least, you did. At 8.01am on Sunday, Johnson and his chancellor were participants in a pilot scheme that meant they didn’t have to isolate after sniffing Sajid Javid. By 10.38am, they had changed their minds.

Compared to Jacob Zuma in South Africa, who’s facing charges of embezzling an entire village, wangling a way to get into the office “doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world”. But this government has now given itself a flavour, “and that flavour is one of impunity”. We remember the Major government’s weird sex scandals and Tony Blair confusing himself with Jesus. Eventually the wind changes and a government is stuck with a face it doesn’t like. Johnsonism relies on the public not caring who paid for his holiday to Mustique, whether Priti Patel bullies her staff or if Dominic Cummings drove to Barnard’s Castle. “Hey, nobody died.” But this U-turn shows that voters care, and the PM knows it. We will remember the Johnson government trying to get away with things. “Over and again.” 

Read the full article here (paywall).