Boris Johnson has been referred to the police once again, this time over claims he broke lockdown rules with friends and family at his country residence in Chequers while the rest of the country was required to stay at home. The devil is in the detail. Tortoise started pursuing the issue three years ago. In June 2020, we were told by Downing Street that Johnson did not use Chequers from March 23 to 27 2020, just after he’d reimposed lockdown. Later Downing Street admitted Johnson had used Chequers the week before that. Now Buckinghamshire Police have been handed a dossier from the Cabinet Office suggesting he could have broken lockdown regulations (reportedly about a dozen times) between June 2020 to May 2021. “But them’s the breaks”?
The Chequers timeline:
16 March 2020 – Johnson tells a Downing Street press conference that “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact and travel”.
23 March 2020 – Johnson announces the start of the first lockdown: “From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.”
26 March 2020 – people are legally prohibited from visiting their second homes in the UK.
June 2020 – Tortoise asks Lee Cain, then Downing Street Director of Communications, whether Johnson made use of Chequers between March 23 and 27. Cain denies it.
14 January 2022 – Downing Street admits Johnson commuted between London and Chequers in the week after he told the country to end non-essential travel on 16 March 2020.
July 2022 – Johnson quits after months of battling the Partygate scandal.
March 2023 – Johnson tells the House of Commons privileges committee investigation: “Hand on heart, I did not lie to the House.” The investigation is expected to conclude shortly.
23 May 2023 – Johnson is referred to police by the Cabinet Office over claims he broke lockdown rules by hosting family and friends multiple times at Chequers despite Covid regulations in force from June 2020 to May 2021.
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