Why does this matter? Because, at the time, Britain was under strict restrictions on social mixing. Park benches were taped off, funerals were subject to a maximum attendance of fewer people than seen in the photo, and outside gatherings were being broken up by law enforcement authorities. Parties in back gardens were streng verboten for all those who did not reside at the property concerned. It looks bad. Because it is bad.
So, in the circumstances, what would a Government on top of its game do for the morning media round? What would a sensible Government have done? What would Nietzsche have done? Sadly for Bozo and his coterie of ineptitude, these questions remained unanswered as Dominic “cash flow problem” Raab was dispatched to the TV studios.
Raab appeared to be arguing in his spare time. It could not, he declared, be a social gathering as all concerned were wearing suits (well, apart from Carrie, that is). It was work related; that there were no laptops, no tablets, no phones held to ears, this was a mere detail. No notepads, no meeting minutes, no credibility to Raab’s argument.
And it got worse. As one Tweeter pointed out, “Dominic Raab just stated on [Sky News] - ‘No 10 is a place of work & they were there HAVING DONE WORK..’ Therefore Raab has just confirmed that this was an AFTER WORK PARTY which was clearly illegal at the time. Over to you [Met Police], not exactly a 'lack of evidence' this time”. Well, quite.
As for how bad this looks, Labour’s Chris Bryant put it directly: “There are more people in this garden with wine, cheese and the prime minister’s wife and child than were allowed at a graveside funeral at the time. That’s why people are so angry”. And Raab’s performance was so bad, lawyer Adam Wagner actually changed his mind as a result.
Wagner yesterday mused “Outdoor gatherings were only banned in public places so that wouldn’t apply (since it was a private garden)”, but after Raab’s excuse making, concluded “Hearing how govt now describing this as a ‘drink after the formal business has ended’ ie *after* work I’m no longer convinced would fit into outside the home for ‘the need… to work’. So everyone not in their own garden potentially broke the law”. Oh dear!
So “Changed my mind on this. Even though the gatherings rules didn’t apply I think Raab may have made things quite a lot worse … Every lawyer has had that witness on their own side who you really want the ground to open up and swallow as they're giving evidence”. Henry Mance of the FT concluded “Downing Street’s claim that the wine was being drunk at a staff meeting would at least explain some of its decisions in the pandemic”. Ho ho ho.
Dominic Raab just took a bad situation and made it one heck of a lot worse. Which means the next set of Covid-19 restrictions will be that much harder to sell to the public.
Fill your cabinet with crawlers, increase the potential for stupidity. Way to go, Bozo.
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