There appears to be a prevailing belief that during lockdown Boris Johnson morphed into a 21st century Marie Antoinette, scoffing cake and guzzling wine, while saying, “Let them go to parties” — only to be reminded that his own rules prohibited them from doing so (FT View, April 13).
Many commentators have written that he and his government took the public for fools. But I don’t think that we’ve been hoodwinked by some great Whitehall conspiracy.
The rules the government set in place were eminently sensible for pretty much everyone (to begin with, at least). However, some of the rules didn’t obviously apply to Downing Street or any workplace that was still open during lockdown. They were grey zones. It feels to me that Downing Street was effectively an extended family in all but name. As such, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to those working there that a brief “cake break” was against the rules, since they were together all the time anyway.
I choose to believe, therefore, that they weren’t holding the public in contempt, but simply misunderstood a slightly nonsensical technicality, admittedly of the rules they created.
Devizes, Wiltshire, UK