In many other countries, this is likely to be seen as a small incident, nothing to talk about. But this is Britain, where people can take breaking the rules very seriously, especially when those in power break them. It means that the police were involved and it has become a hot topic of discussion in the media and among politicians.
“We are aware of a video showing a dog removing its leash in Hyde Park,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement to the British press. “An officer, who was present at the time, spoke to a woman and reminded her of the rules. The dog was put back on the leash.” The incident appeared to offend many British sensibilities, with one Briton complaining in social media about what is “one rule for us, another rule for them”.
Leading the country after years of political turbulence has not been a walk in the park for Sunak. His administration has come under pressure on several fronts this year, on issues including a controversial proposal asylum policyHistoric strikes by affected British workers by inflationand ethical investigations in members of his party
However, it is often the individual, and perhaps more identifiable, incidents of rule-breaking that have captured the nation’s attention. On Wednesday, social media users alluded to previous times Sunak has been in trouble, including in January, when he was fined by police after video showed him riding in a vehicle without wearing a seatbelt, and last year, when he was fined. for attending parties at 10 Downing Street, violating coronavirus confinement restrictions.
British attitudes towards breaking the rules, particularly rules that are seen as part of a social contract, can be harsh. Jumping forward in a queue is considered an outrage by many. Similarly, research on social attitudes suggests that only 31 percent of Britons disagree with the statement: “‘The law must always be obeyed, even if a particular law is wrong.” And opinions can be especially harsh about politicians who break the rules. The same 2021 poll found that 67 percent agreed that there was “one law for the rich and one for the poor.”
Downing Street said it would not comment on the latest footage, Sky News reported, as a spokesman for the prime minister told reporters: “I will not comment on the filming of the prime minister’s family and individuals. You can watch the video, he speaks for himself. But critics of Sunak and of the Conservative Party more generally have seized on the incident to paint the prime minister as elite and out of touch.
Speaking on a British radio station on Wednesday, an editor for the Daily Mirror, a left-leaning tabloid, told the show’s host that Sunak “just seems unaware of the rules, regulations and laws surrounding him.” “Lock parties, seat belts, and now dog leashes!” lawmaker david lammy of the opposition Labor Party tweeted on Tuesday. “Because @RishiSunak Do you think our laws never apply to him?
On TikTok, hundreds of people left comments criticizing Sunak for not following the rules. “Rules for you, not me,” wrote one person. “Forget he’s supposed to lead by example…again,” wrote another. Meanwhile, a puzzled Brit said local radio that the incident was a good metaphor for how Sunak might fight to keep members of his own party, including his colorful predecessor, in check.
“If Rishi Sunak can’t keep his own dog on a leash, how is he going to keep the great dog Boris Johnson on one?” the caller asked, leaving the radio host laughing. Sunak has, in the past, declared himself a dog lover, saying that while having a dog was not his idea, Nova is “the best thing that has happened to our family in a long time.”