Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Boris Johnson and elites’ bizarre oblivion to their own pandemic indecency

By Samuel Goldman, The Week

British politics are different. While American politicians tend to hold onto their jobs until — and sometimes even after — they face charges for actual crimes, British officials are routinely forced out or resign for comparably minor lapses of behavior or judgment.

That’s why U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Conservative, is in bigger trouble than an American president would be in his place. On Wednesday, he apologized in Parliament for attending a cocktail party at his Downing Street residence in May 2020, when Britons faced tight COVID-19 restrictions against socializing. Although the story has been circulating for weeks, Johnson tried to defer questions about the incident until an internal investigation is complete. His recent statement is an attempt at damage control as public opinion continues to turn against him.

Despite his mounting unpopularity, Johnson probably won’t be ousted by his party, which includes no obvious successor. But his situation should be a warning to public figures around the world who still don’t understand why so many people are so angry about lockdowns, school closures, mask requirements, and other public health mandates.

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