Prime Minister Boris Johnson now represents a very real danger to life - he must step aside to save lives

Before I get how I’m feeling today off my chest, I must declare an interest in the matter at hand: in April last year, I lost my Aunty Sandy to coronavirus, and the way it took her from us whilst relatively young and living a normal, active life still feels deeply unfair.

Because of that, I am conscious the loss to our family invariably impacts on my objectivity, here, but I also know that millions of other people around the country have been affected by the loss of loved ones - family, friends, colleagues - to covid-19 and so my perspective on this pandemic is far from the exception. We are all in this together, right?

Well, not quite.

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Because we now know that on December 18th last year, two days after London was thrown into emergency lockdown level three, a Christmas party took place on Downing Street that was against the rules drawn up by the guests of that very knees-up.

As the story came to light, Government scrambled to furiously deny it ever happened. That was until footage emerged of Boris Johnson’s personal communications tsar, Allegra Stratton, smirking and joking about the rule-breaking. Footage that to so many of us for whom the pandemic has become personal felt mocked our sacrifice, ridiculed our compliance … laughed in our faces.

So what exactly would the Prime Minister do at PMQs today to defend his team as he would surely step up and take responsibility?

Well, he said: “I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing Number 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures, and I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that the people who make the rules have not been following the rules, because I was also furious to see that clip and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it has caused up and down the country and I apologise for the impression it gives.”

The impression it gives? Oh, please. Spare us the patronising faux outrage, Prime Minister.

Shortly after Ms Stratton was thrown under Boris’ Bus, she took to her doorstep to tell the press pack through tears: “To all of you who lost loved ones, who endured intolerable loneliness and who struggled with your businesses, I am truly sorry.”

She added that her condescending remarks would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Critics piled on, accusing the caught-out communications guru of regretting nothing but being caught, but at least it was people’s lived experience she said she was sorry for - not the impression that her ill-judged mockery of the nation might have given.

U-turning, if I may (it’s fashionable, these days) to PMQs and one exchange in particular, for me at least, rose above any other. That of Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health and, incidentally, an A&E doctor.

She took to her feet, composed herself, looked the Prime Minister in the eye and described to him the conditions on the front line of the NHS under the lockdown restrictions that he and his Government were responsible for drawing up, even if they felt they did not apply to them.

She told Prime Minister Johnson that on one occasion she wept beneath her mask as she saw three children beg their mum to awake from her covid coma … via an iPad. Denied the opportunity to comfort their mum at her bedside when she most needed it.

She added: “Prime Minister, my question to you is simple. How do you sleep at night?”

Scroll forwards to 6pm, hot on the heels of having been told by SNP firebrand Ian Blackford that he had lost the moral authority to lead the nation, and Prime Minister Johnson takes to national television to ask the very people his innermost team had laughed at square in the face - whilst concocting cover stories for their own selfish actions - to do more.

And this brings me to the crux of my concern, tonight.

The Prime Minister’s credibility, his integrity - and that of his Government - has been eviscerated. When Geordie jokers Ant and Dec are cracking gags at your expense on national television, I am afraid any jokes your team dared to make are squarely on you. I’m a Prime Minister - and a household laughing stock - get me out of here, if you will.

So we cannot take him seriously, nor those members of his party who, just a heartbeat ago, plunged the Government into a sleaze scandal as they attempted to move the goalposts on standards in public office in order to save the skin of one of their own, caught with his hands in the till.

However, as my declaration of interest attests, even though we cannot take the Prime Minister seriously, we must take coronavirus seriously. We must protect ourselves from Omicron and any other subsequent mutations of this indiscriminate killer, because lives depend on it.

Our willingness to acknowledge the danger ahead requires us to listen, understand and act on what is needed of us. Yet, Mr Johnson and his partying chums are for reasons we now know, most unlikely masters. In essence, his presence in high office is now a very real danger to life by virtue of his own flaws.

And so that brings me to the question I wanted to ask at tonight’s Covid briefing but did not get the chance: Prime Minister, lives depend on whether or not people trust you enough to do as you say, despite now knowing that Downing Street does as it pleases. Given it appears you have lost the faith of the nation, will you now step aside in order to save lives?

So, Prime Minister: will you?