Rishi Sunak walking his dog off leash sparks police warning and scandal


LONDON – Who let the dog out? Apparently it was British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and it led to a very British scandal, known to some as “dog gate”.

It started innocently enough. A video emerged on TikTok over the weekend appearing to show the British frontman strolling through one of London’s most popular parks with his family and his red fox Labrador named Nova. But, as the video notes, there was something wrong with the picturesque scene. Sunak and Nova were in an area where park rules strictly state that dogs must be leashed to protect nearby swans and ducks, and Nova was roaming freely.

In many other countries, this is likely to be seen as a small incident, nothing to stir tongues. But this is Britain, where people can take breaking the rules very seriously, especially when regulations are broken by those in power. This means the police were involved, and it became a hot topic of discussion in the media and among politicians.

“We are aware of a video showing a dog being walked off-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 a leash. The incident appeared to offend many British sensibilities, with one Briton complaining about social networks that it was “one rule for us, another rule for them”.

Leading the country after years of political turmoil has not been easy for Sunak. His government has been under pressure on several fronts this year, over issues including a controversial proposed asylum policy, historic strikes by British workers hit by inflation and ethics inquiries into members of his party.

Yet it is often the incidents of individual, and perhaps more relevant, rule violations that have captured the nation’s attention. On Wednesday, social media users hinted at times Sunak has been in hot water, including in January when he was fined by police after video showed him traveling in a vehicle without wearing his seatbelt, and last year when he was fined. for attending parties at 10 Downing Street, breaking coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

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The attitude of Britons to breaking rules, especially rules seen as part of a social contract, can be harsh. Getting ahead in a queue is considered a scandal by many. Similarly, research on social attitudes suggests that only 31% of Britons disagree with the following statement: “The law should always be obeyed, even if a particular law is bad. And opinions can be particularly harsh about politicians who break the rules. The same 2021 survey found that 67% agreed 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 spokesperson for the Prime Minister told reporters: “I will not comment on the filming of the Prime Minister’s family and private individuals. You can see the video, it speaks for itself. But critics of Sunak and the Conservative Party more generally have seized on the incident to portray the prime minister as elite and out of touch.

On a British radio station on Wednesday, an editor of the left-wing tabloid Daily Mirror told the show’s host that Sunak “seems to just be unaware of the rules, regulations and laws that affect him. surround”. “Lock the parties, seat belts and now the dog leashes!” legislator David Lamy of the opposition Labor Party tweeted on Tuesday. “Why does @RishiSunak Do you believe that our laws never apply to him?

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On TikTok, hundreds of people left comments criticizing Sunak for breaking the rules. “Rules for you, not for me,” one person wrote. “Forget he’s supposed to lead by example…again,” wrote another. Meanwhile, a puzzled Briton said local radio that the incident was a good metaphor for how Sunak could struggle to keep members of his own party, including his colorful predecessor, in line.

“If Rishi Sunak can’t keep his own dog on a leash, how is he going to keep big dog Boris Johnson on a leash?” the caller asked, leaving the radio host to chuckle. Sunak has, in the past, declared himself a dog lover, saying that although having a dog was not his idea, Nova is the “best thing that has happened to our family in a long time”.

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