In an unusual move by a former Prime Minister, Sir John Major used a keynote speech to accuse Boris Johnson and his officials of breaking lockdown laws over parties held in Downing Street.
In a speech to the Institute for Government think tank, Sir John said: “At No 10, the prime minister and officials broke lockdown laws.
“Brazen excuses were dreamed up. Day after day the public was asked to believe the unbelievable. Ministers were sent out to defend the indefensible – making themselves look gullible or foolish.”
With 12 gatherings still under investigation by the Metropolitan Police, the Prime Minister from 1990-1997 warned “Outright lies breed contempt.”
Sir John added: “The prime minister and our present government not only challenge the law, but also seem to believe that they, and they alone, need not obey the rules, traditions, conventions – call them what you will – of public life.
“The charge that there is one law for the government, and one for everyone else is politically deadly – and it has struck home.”
“When ministers respond to legitimate questions with pre-prepared sound bites, or half-truths, or misdirection, or wild exaggeration, then respect for government and politics dies a little more.”
The UK’s reputation overseas has been damaged:
Commenting on the UK’s reputation overseas, Sir John joined global leaders by saying it was wrong to take democracy for granted and it had “fallen because of our conduct”.
In response to the speech, the Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey praised Sir John’s “bravery”, adding: “This damning criticism should act as a wake-up call to every Conservative MP who is sitting on their hands while Boris Johnson trashes the values that underpin our democracy.”
Talking to the BBC this morning, the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said “”The prime minister has said he will be full and transparent. He will notify [the public] if he is receiving any form of fine et cetera.”