Speed Reads

A real tongue lashing

Theresa May has no patience for Boris Johnson's flouting of COVID-19 restrictions

Theresa May, who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom before current PM Boris Johnson, lit into her successor and fellow Conservative on Monday over his flouting of the U.K.'s COVID restrictions, CNN reported.

"The COVID regulations imposed significant restrictions on the freedoms of members of the public. They had a right to expect their prime minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules — and, indeed, those around him to have done so, too — and to set an example in following those rules," May said in the House of Commons.  

May served as prime minister from 2016 to 2019 and continues to serve as a backbench member of Parliament.

Earlier Monday, British civil servant Sue Gray released an update on her investigation into drunken parties and other gatherings held by Johnson and his staff while COVID-19 restrictions were still in effect.

The controversial gatherings that have been revealed in recent weeks include two held by Downing Street staff the night before Prince Philip's funeral, at which Queen Elizabeth II sat alone due to social distancing requirements.

The Week contributor Joel Mathis wrote last week that Johnson "appears to be on the cusp of losing his office" over the scandal.

"What the Gray report does show," May continued, "is that No. 10 Downing Street was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public. So either my right honorable friend [Johnson] had not read the rules or didn't understand what they meant — and others around him — or they didn't think the rules applied to No. 10."

"Which was it?" May concluded emphatically to shouts of acclamation.

In response, Johnson stammeringly suggested that May wait "to see the conclusion of the inquiry."

May has been critical of Johnson in the past. Last month, she wrote that his stance in Brexit negotiations and his decision to renege on foreign aid commitments had cost Britain its position of "global moral leadership," The Guardian reported.