The Misinformed Man


By Molly Pollock

This was said by Jacob Rees-Mogg, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, on LBC this morning. This is the clip of the programme.

So, there we have it. The Prime Minister repeatedly assured parliament and the public that no rules had been broken, all guidance had been followed, no parties had been held. Maybe before giving so many assurances he should have double checked what he had been told, or opened his eyes to what was taking place around his office and his home. No parties…and then he admitted to attending some gatherings, inlcuding one in his own home and a birthday get-together with a cake and wine.

Ah, but he was assured that all rules had been followed. The rules were clear – no gatherings. But then the words used – he was assured – were used specifically to mislead, to leave an escape door open for him. Jacob Rees-Mogg has stepped up to open that escape door, getting wheeled out to tell us the poor Prime Minister had been misinformed, lied to by his staff no less. If Johnson’s staff felt the need to lie to him about parties being held within the Number 10 complex then surely that indicates his staff knew they were against the law.

So the Prime Minister’s staff knew these gatherings were against the law but the Prime Minister apparently didn’t, although these laws had recently been passed by his own government of which he is leader.

We are aware Johnson is a Prime Minister who often appears not to be on top of his brief, making glaring mistakes in speeches, waffling when he doesn’t know answers to questions, wildly waving his hands and arms as he tries to shift the conversation onto another topic. The reason for this may be due to his apparent reliance on brief WhatsApp updates to keep him informed rather than bothering to read the briefing papers in his red box. Surely this lack of interest didn’t mean the Prime Minister was ignorant of the laws passed to tackle the covid-19 crisis.

As the fixed penalty notices from the Met start to drop through letterboxes, Rees-Mogg isn’t the only government minister being wheeled out in an effort to protect Johnson’s reputation and his position as PM.

So, there we have it. The world has moved on. The cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine are now centre front, the parties held in Number 10 are in the past and, in any case, were merely fluff. Rees-Mogg believes instead of questioning parties we should instead question the need for draconian, ‘inhuman’ regulations that denied people the right to be with loved ones in their last hours, to attend the birth of their chidren, to comfort those who were ill. And some might agree with his opinion, although it’s a distraction to takes the focus off Partygate. The regulations were brought in to stem the spread of an infection that was about to overwhelm hospitals and medical staff, and which has long term damaging effects. The Tories have all along tried to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, campaigned to open hospitality venues, to ditch mask wearing. The Tories didn’t want to save people, they wanted to save businesses, their bank balances, their significant donations, their rightwards road to what they see as personal freedom.

Johnson is the Prime Minister. He is in charge of everything that happens in Number 10. The buck stops with him. Yet cabinet ministers are desperately touring media studios to tell us he wasn’t to blame. He was misinformed. That begs the question: What else is the Prime ininster misinformed about? Has he been misinformed over the covid pandemic, its ongoing effects and about opening up too quickly? Has he been misinformed over the surge in energy costs and the cost of living crisis? Has he been misinformed over the war in Ukraine? The economy? The NHS? Brexit?

A Prime Minister who can so easily be misinformed, who believes everything he’s told without checking, who is so unaware of decisions made in his own offices and events taking place around him, surely should not be in such a position of authority. If we are to believe Rees-Mogg, the Prime Minister of the UK is little more than a message boy for the spin of others. A government errand boy.

Hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the leader of the UK.

Johnson repeated his assurances to parliament numerous times. He knowingly lied to parliament. There is no other believabke explanation.

And for those who agree with Ree-Mogg and regard Partygate as a piece of fluff, maybe this tweet from Alastair Campbell will make you rethink.

No, this is not trivial. The rule of law and the necessity for it to apply to everyone are the lynchpins of our democracy. Ditch those, and we are on an extremely dire road to the far right. Remember that when pondering Rees-Mogg’s dross. He has his own agenda.