It doesn’t take a great political mind to see that when the PM breaks the law, it does “something devastating and long-term” to trust in politics, says Marina Hyde in The Guardian. By fining Boris Johnson over cake-and-booze parties during lockdown, the police have confirmed that the leader of our country broke a law he had not only made himself, but one that he had “stressed the absolutely vital importance of sticking to, every night on TV”. No wonder the distinguished British historian Peter Hennessy has declared him “the great debaser in modern times of decency in public and political life, and of our constitutional conventions – our very system of government”.
To be honest, says The Sun, the furious attacks on Johnson by Labour – “the confected rage, the frothing abuse and the sanctimonious moralising” – are hard to stomach. To Keir Starmer, “himself pictured chugging beer with workmates during lockdown”, Boris’s parties are the crime of the century. Come off it. The PM has apologised and made much of contrasting his “mistakes” with the gravity of the war in Ukraine and “his global leadership over it”. Yes, it was a tactic, but he has a point. “All perspective has been lost.” Imagine Vladimir Putin’s mirth if Volodymyr Zelensky’s number one international ally is ousted over Partygate.
The Opposition might be baying for his resignation, says Katy Balls in The Spectator, but he’s not going anywhere. The only constituency Johnson has to worry about for now are his own MPs, and they don’t have anyone to replace him with after the “sudden implosion” of Rishi Sunak. Labour now has an easy attack narrative against the once “hugely popular” Chancellor: Sunak is a member of the “out-of-touch global elite” whose Green Card and wife’s non-dom status suggest he’d “jet back off to Santa Monica in a heartbeat”. Without Sunak snapping at Johnson’s heels, the PM’s bad behaviour will likely go unpunished. The real problem, says Allister Heath in The Daily Telegraph, is that Johnson is a “British version of Emmanuel Macron”: a one-man fusion of centre-left and centre-right politics rather than a true Tory. The pair’s apparent radicalism is merely a “market opportunity” rather than a passionate belief. If Johnson, “whose joie de vivre once defined him”, can no longer sell hope, he’s going to need more than his usual dollop of good luck to stick it out for long.