The World Today for December 29, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

Scratches in the Teflon

UNITED KINGDOM

The former speaker of the British House of Commons, John Bercow, recently told Good Morning Britain that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the worst premier he had ever known. A formerly Conservative parliamentarian who recently switched to the opposition Labour Party, Bercow said that Johnson didn’t care about anyone but himself, refused to take responsibility for his mistakes and was interested solely in short-term political gain rather than helping his country.

In light of recent controversies surrounding Johnson’s behavior, many think Bercow has a point.

After his government instituted rules in 2020 forbidding public gatherings in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Johnson hosted a Christmas party at 10 Downing Street in flagrant violations of the law. “Officials knocked back glasses of wine during a Christmas quiz and a Secret Santa while the rest of the country was forced to stay at home,” the Daily Mirror reported.

Johnson had initially denied the party ever took place until a video surfaced with an aide making reference to it.

That wasn’t the first of Johnson’s missteps.

On Nov. 27, Johnson held a jam-packed event in honor of Cleo Watson, a 32-year-old aid nicknamed “The Gazelle” who was leaving the prime minister’s office to write an erotic political thriller about British officials, Daily Mail wrote, adding that the Conservative prime minister held three other crowded bashes in 2020 in contravention of Covid rules.

Earlier this year, Johnson also told ministers during a meeting that he would not accept a third nationwide lockdown to stop the spread, saying that he would rather “let the bodies pile high in their thousands,” according to Reuters.

Johnson and his circle repeatedly deny these allegations. But numerous news outlets have reported on them.

The prime minister also stoked a controversy when he renovated his Downing Street living quarters earlier this year at a cost of more than $260,000 – even though, as the BBC explained, he possessed only a publicly appropriated budget of around $40,000 for the job. Political donors might have paid the difference without Johnson properly disclosing it.

As a result, polls now show that Labour has the support of 41 percent of the British public compared to the Conservative’s 33 percent, reported the Huffington Post. Johnson’s approval ratings have dropped to 29 percent with a majority of the country saying he should resign.

Johnson, like ex-President Donald Trump, has long “mystified” critics by bouncing back from scandals that would have wrecked other, less colorful politicians, the Washington Post noted.

Now, however, he might be losing his touch. Recently, as CNN reported, Conservative members of parliament defied him to vote against his proposed Covid-19 measures. Liberal Democrats also recently won a parliamentary seat in a district that the Conservatives had held for 200 years.

Whether he survives scandals and turmoil, one thing is clear: It’s been a tough Christmas for the prime minister.

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