Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been... chaotic, to say the least.
He’s been accused of leaving lockdown too late, coming out of it too quickly and let’s not even get started on the Dominic Cummings fiasco.
Polling indicates his popularity has fallen massively and people think he’s handled the crisis badly. If you're a Boris fan, things could certainly be better.
Now Johnson is being ridiculed for claiming that he hadn’t heard of footballer Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign until yesterday (16 June) despite “rejecting” it the previous day (15 June)
So what happened?
Let’s rewind a bit to the latest example of Johnson’s chaotic leadership: a major U-turn on free lunch vouchers for children.
It had been announced that, despite the extraordinary circumstances, the government would not be providing £120m of free meal vouchers for Britain’s most vulnerable children during the summer holidays. Critics warned that this would see millions of kids go hungry.
Then footballer Marcus Rashford (but also the Labour Party and charity SCOPE) launched campaigns to overturn the decision.
Rashford’s campaign massively took off and inspired thousands to write to their MPs and tweet the hashtag #MakeTheUTurn. In an honest, open and frank letter that the footballer shared on social media on Monday, he he drew upon his own experiences as a child and the hardships that his mother went through in order to put food on the table for him and his siblings in a single-parent household. His response to the government's decision was one of triumph and unity.
The momentum of Rashford's campaign was unstoppable and shows the impact that one person can make.
It was a great moment all round, to be honest.
But now Johnson is being ridiculed for a claim that he made in his Downing Streer presser yesterday (16 June).
On 16 June, Johnson claimed that he hadn’t heard of Rashford’s campaign until that day.
His exact words were:
I spoke to Marcus Rashford and congratulated him on his campaign which, to be honest, I only became aware of today.
The campaign was literally everywhere on all social media sites, but Johnson is a busy guy, so it’s perhaps possible this could be true... right?
Well, it looks like it might not be, because as people pointed out that Johnson “rejected” the demands of the campaign the previous day...
Quoted in the Guardian the previous day, a Downing Street spokesperson specifically mentioned the campaign while reiterating that the government wouldn't be changing its mind, saying:
The PM will respond to Marcus Rashford’s letter as soon as he can – he has been using his profile in a positive way to highlight some very important issues.
On social media, lots of people thought this seemed like a suspicious inconsistency.
What Boris Johnson said just now at the press conference doesn't corroborate what actually happened yesterday.
— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan 💙 (@Dr Rosena Allin-Khan 💙)
Boris Johnson said he hadn't heard of #MarcusRashford's campaign until today.
It was another of his lies https://t.co/0VzHXKHsw4
— Mark Blacklock 💙 #JoinAUnion (@Mark Blacklock 💙 #JoinAUnion)
Look I really don’t want to say this, it cheapens political discourse and it’s highly defamatory, but it is at leas… https://t.co/zsUjYPsChp