Boris Govt Backtracks: Don’t Snitch Unless Neighbours Are Having ‘Animal House’ Parties

John Belushi publicity portrait for the film 'Animal House', 1978. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)
Universal/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rowed back on his ministers’ statements that Britons should snitch on their neighbours breaching new coronavirus measures — unless they are having hot tub ragers and “Animal House” parties.

On Monday, new rules came into force that banned gatherings of more than six people, following an increase in coronavirus cases in the UK.

Senior ministers Priti Patel and Kit Malthouse almost immediately told media that if Britons suspect their neighbours are breaking the rules, then they should call the police. Home Secretary Patel also claimed that neighbours of more than six bumping into each other on the street and stopping for a chat also contravened the new laws.

Attempting damage control, Prime Minister Johnson told The Sun on Wednesday: “I have never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself.

“What people should do in the first instance is obviously if they are concerned is raise it with their friends and neighbours.”

Referencing the 1978 cult classic National Lampoon’s Animal House, he continued: “But I think what is reasonable for anyone to do is if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of their neighbour’s activities — if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health then it’s reasonable for the authorities to know.”

Asked if he would rat on his Downing Street neighbour, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister doubted that he would have to, painting a picture of the chancellor of the exchequer wandering around his garden, “meticulously observing the guidance”.

While Mr Johnson has sought to make light of the laws, others have raised their grave concerns over the infringements of Britons’ liberties.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage earlier criticised Ms Patel’s zeal for calling the authorities on her neighbours, saying: “Have we become like East Germany where children were encouraged to report on their parents?”

Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption also evoked the former Communist state, saying: “The ban on socialising in groups of more than six is unenforceable except in a Stasi-style surveillance state with a poisonous network of informers.”

Dissent has risen from Johnson’s own administration, with Brexiteer Steve Baker warning that new rules have created an unfit legal environment “for a free people”, adding: “It’s time for us to actually start living like a free people, not subjecting ourselves to constantly shifting legal requirements.”

Mr Baker outlined the lack of logic to the new rules, pointing out that while people may attend church with dozens of others, they may not go to church in groups of more than six. Children may go to school, but not play together in the park afterwards in large numbers.

Reports have circulated on Thursday that the government is mulling curfews for pubs and restaurants.

However, while Boris’s government has criminalised children’s birthday parties and family Sunday dinners, he was reticent to respond in the House of Commons to a question of why grouse hunts were exempt.

Mass protests, such as those staged by the Marxist Black Lives Matter and far-left Extinction Rebellion, “if organised in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance”, are also perfectly legal.

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