Is the easing of restrictions a distraction technique from the Downing Street parties?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you will know about the parties that were happening in Downing Street over the `past couple of years whilst the country was in lockdown. With a complete easing of restrictions coming on Thursday this week, I can’t help but wonder whether this move is a tactic to make press stop reporting on the parties.

This tactic isn’t something which is new. Before Christmas as the Omicron variant surged through the population while the rumours started that there was a Christmas party in Number 10 in 2020, restrictions were changed numerous times which force press to write about that rather than the parties. With Sue Gray’s investigation into the various parties which happened at Number 10 throughout lockdowns being rumoured to be released by the end of the week, its convenient that there is a change to lockdown restrictions which force press away from the party scandal.

Staff members have left their jobs due to evidence which has come out over the past few months which either sees them breaking lockdown rules or making light of the pandemic. Back in the first lockdown, Dominic Cummings found himself in a scandal after breaking lockdown rules to ‘test his eyesight’ in March 2020. In May, an investigation was launched into his activities which resulted in him resigning from his position. Looking back with hindsight, it’s clear to see why Cummings was reluctant to leave his position at the time, as he must have had knowledge about the various social gatherings which were occurring in Downing Street. It’s possible that he would have had the opinion that why should he leave his post if others higher up in the party were also breaking the rules. This social elitism is something which has been highly reported on throughout social media with people complaining of it being one rule for them and another for us.

Moreover, in December 2021 a video of the former press sectary Allegra Stratton in a mock press conference was released. In the video (which was from December 2020), Stratton was seen to be making a joke out of the Christmas party which happened in Downing Street earlier the same month. At the time, the restrictions in London prohibited indoor gatherings. After this came out, Stratton left her position, but again looking back now it must have been frustrating for her to leave the role knowing about the various gatherings which took place.

At the time of both instances, were called for by the public. Now we know what we know about these parties, of course the public are calling for Boris to step down as Prime Minister. However, as these parties included most Downing Street staff, will the person who takes over as PM not also be guilty of breaking lockdown?

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