May 19, 2022

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The Passionate Pursuit of Law

Fury after Tory MP defends PM by claiming ‘many nurses and teachers’ also broke the law


‘Most teachers and nurses I know had NO time for themselves, let alone having a piss up after work like Michael Fabricant is suggesting, with his stiff wig.’

Fabricant

Tory MP Michael Fabricant has sparked a furious backlash after he claimed that many teachers and nurses ‘also broke the rules’, as he desperately tried to defend Boris Johnson after the prime minister, along with the chancellor, was fined for breaking lockdown laws.

After the Met issued fines to the two most powerful politicians in the country for breaking the very laws that they had imposed on the rest of the country, calls have grown from opposition parties for the prime minister to resign. A snap poll for YouGov found that 57% of voters also think that Johnson should quit.

Appearing on the BBC, Fabricant defended the prime minister. Discussing the fine, the MP for Lichfield claimed that the prime minister did not know he was breaking the law when he decided to attend his own “impromptu” birthday party on 19 June 2020.

Fabricant said: “I think he’s got to apologise, but I don’t think at any time he thought he was breaking the law.

“I think at the time just like many teachers and nurses who after a very long shift would tend to go back to the staff room and have a quiet drink which is more or less what he has done.”

His comments sparked an immediate backlash, with Labour MP Chris Elmore tweeting: “Michael Fabricant now accusing “teachers and nurses” who went “back to the staff room to have a drink” at the end of their day. Is this now the @Conservatives line? Let’s blame the teachers and nurses (who worked tirelessly during covid) for PM and Chancellor breaking the rules?”

Another social media user wrote: “Most teachers and nurses I know had NO time for themselves, let alone having a piss up after work like Michael Fabricant is suggesting, with his stiff wig.”

Since Fabricant’s comments, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said it is formally complaining, with the body slamming his comments as ‘demoralising and factually incorrect’.

Writing to him, Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, said: “We remain at the forefront of pandemic response. Despite political narrative, as health and care professionals we know the Covid-19 context is nowhere near over. While you position yourself with some authority as to the behaviour and actions of nurses during the pandemic, I’d like to inform you of the following facts.

“Throughout the pandemic – and still certainly, now – most days, nurses and nursing support workers, when finally finishing a number of unpaid hours well past shift end, will get home, clean their uniforms, shower and collapse into bed.

“Throughout the early pandemic, this was often alone, for the protection of others – kept away from family, friends and support networks. These shifts – in communities, in hospitals, anywhere people are – are long, unrelenting, understaffed and intense.

“At the end of one of the many hours, days and years we have worked, since recognition of the pandemic, I can assure you that none of us have sought to hang out and ‘have a quiet one in the staff room.’ There isn’t a site in England that would allow alcohol on the premises for any professional to consume during working hours.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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