UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has freewheeled into his latest controversy after being spotted cycling more than seven miles away from Downing Street, despite Covid-19 rules restricting people to their local area.
Johnson was seen cycling around London’s Olympic Park on Sunday afternoon along with his security detail. The prime minister and his bodyguards would have had to traverse across a swath of the British capital to get from his home in the city center to the park in east London’s Stratford area.
The Evening Standard is reporting that Johnson told a cabinet meeting on Sunday evening that he was concerned by how many people he saw in the park during his recreational ride.
“He was concerned about if people were following the rules and was concerned after his cycle ride around the park,” a source told the newspaper. The Standard didn’t mention whether Johnson’s concern stretched to include his own actions.
The news unleashed a fresh wave of outrage at the UK leader when it broke on Monday afternoon. Many took to social media to vent their spleen that different rules seem to apply to those in power in the UK.
You couldn’t make it up. Boris Johnson spotted cycling 7 miles from Downing Street. Cummings, Ferguson, Burley, Rigby, Morgan, now Boris too.It’s almost like the people making the rules (or demanding them) don’t think the rules apply to them, isn’t it? https://t.co/X4a9LZsIa3
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) January 11, 2021
“Once again it is ‘do as I say, not as I do’ from the Prime Minister. London has some of the highest infection rates in the country. Boris Johnson should be leading by example,” Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, said.
Numerous people noted that there are green spaces closer to Johnson’s home in Westminster where he could have exercised.
To all the people banging on about @BorisJohnson cycling in Olympic Park, seven miles from home, after 2 women in Derbyshire were fined for walking four miles from home, he was testing his eyes okay! 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/Ib84IApEpT
— Tommy Robbing – Scum Exposed (@fight_far) January 11, 2021
Scores of messages also referenced the controversy that surrounded Johnson’s former adviser Dominic Cummings, during the first wave of the pandemic, when he travelled across locked-down Britain to go to a house belonging to his parents and later made another 30-mile journey, which he claimed was for the purposes of testing his eyesight.
LOOK, to all the people banging on about our beloved prime minister@BorisJohnson cycling in Olympic Park, seven miles from home, when those women in Derbyshire were fined for walking four miles from home, he was testing his eyes okay! pic.twitter.com/UFhquEbBnP
— Will Black (@WillBlackWriter) January 11, 2021
Johnson’s lockdown-infringing cycle has prompted criticism from across the political spectrum. Broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer, who regularly draws the ire of the woke brigade, blasted the PM, saying: “It’s almost like the people making the rules (or demanding them) don’t think the rules apply to them, isn’t it?”
However, some dismissed the whole episode as a storm in a teacup. Political commentator Isabel Oakeshott jumped to Johnson’s defence, saying: “Even if he were ragingly infectious I doubt his bike would catch it. In any case he’s already had coronavirus so he can’t give it to anyone. Next?”
Apparently @BorisJohnson “faces questions” after being seen cycling 7 miles from Downing St at Olympic Park. Even if he were ragingly infectious I doubt his bike would catch it. In any case he’s already had coronavirus so he can’t give it to anyone. Next?
— Isabel Oakeshott (@IsabelOakeshott) January 11, 2021
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