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Law-makers and breakers: the Gray report aftermath

Boris Johnson’s unbrushed hair has long been one of his saving graces, apparently. The voters like him because of it – it makes him look like an everyman; it gives him an air of insouciance. But by last week, after one political car crash after another, his unbrushed hair was about the last thing he had left to cling to.

But as he blustered and blathered in the Commons, trying to wriggle away from the fall-out of Sue Gray’s report, even the dishevelled hair deserted him. It makes him look hungover,  like you know he’s had a couple of bottles of Bollinger too many. And right now, that is a bad image for the Prime Minister to project.

Maybe he was hungover. After all, every day seems to bring news of a new Downing Street party that is being investigated. No wonder Ms Gray started calling her report an ‘update’. I’ve lost track of how many parties allegedly took place now. Is it 14? Is it 16? Is it 18? The Met Police are investigating it all anyway. At this rate, they’re going to need a bigger force. 

Maybe the recent No. 10 renovations were to convert the residence into Johnson’s own personal Wetherspoons. I thought students were supposed to be heavy drinkers, but I’m not sure even the likes of Gari’s and Why Not can hold a candle to what is now being called Down-in-one-Street. 

Whatever your political persuasion, the man has become a joke all around the world. President Biden’s press secretary laughed out loud on Tuesday when she reassured the American press corps that the leader of the free world had not been ‘ambushed by a cake’. And yet Johnson is a man we are supposed to trust to dictate our foreign policy in Ukraine.

Watching Boris squirm under the microscope as he responded in the Commons to Ms Gray’s update was satisfying up to a point but ultimately, frustrating. Is he capable of remorse? As Sir Keir Starmer pointed out, Johnson does not really do shame. ‘This pandemic has been hard for everyone,’ Johnson had the gall to say. Everyone except him and his cronies, who transformed from lawmakers into lawbreakers.

Particularly concerning is the section of Gray’s report that says, “some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but felt unable to do so.” It seems that Boris hasn’t come that far since his Oxford University Bullingdon Club days; he’s still having secret, outrageous parties that stay firmly inside the vault. He felt untouchable then and he feels untouchable now. The lack of respect and basic decency for the public who have sacrificed so much is sickening.

So what next for our valiant leader? With his own party members attacking him in the Commons, and Tories withdrawing support like falling dominoes, surely he cannot just wait this out. No other politician could. No other politician would have the front. But Boris doesn’t play by those rules – he doesn’t play by any rules, not even his own. 

Illustration by Alexa Sambrook