Government call to report lockdown rule-breakers backfires spectacularly

Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference, following the announcement that the legal limit on

Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference, following the announcement that the legal limit on social gatherings is set to be reduced from 30 people to six. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The government's request that members of the public report people who break new lockdown rules has backfired spectacularly on social media.

Twitter users found it irresistible not to mock the government which was asking UK citizens to abide by new domestic laws concerning the coronavirus while pushing ahead with plans to break international law.

The government has introduced new lockdown laws making it illegal for groups larger than six to meet from Monday and tasked ministers with spreading the message on TV and social media this morning.

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One Home Office minister called on people to contact police if they saw their neighbours breaking the 'rule of six' regulation.

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Crime minister Kit Malthouse BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be, but there is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to.'

Asked whether that included reporting neighbours who hosted more than six people in their garden, Malthouse said: 'It is open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number, and if they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about it.'

But Twitter users could not help but see the irony behind the whole thing. The social media platform was awash with comments asking whether there was a hotline to report a government looking to break international law.

Mocking Downing Street's plan to breach the Withdrawal Agreement, an internationally-recognised treaty detailing Britain's exit from the European Union, Rachel Ryder wrote: 'Can I report a govt for breaking international law, or does the law only apply to little people?'

Jon Jones wrote: 'Report your neighbours to police if they're breaking rule of six. Odd, because when members of the public reported numerous sightings of Cummings in the North-West in blatant breach of lockdown, the police decided not to give a f**k.'

'Quick there is a very large house in Westminster with more than 6 in it right now...' one user posted.

Mark Worgan quipped: 'What if they feel people are breaking the law in a 'specific and limited way'?'

Responding to news that groups out shooting or hunting were exempt from the rule, one user wrote: 'Good news! You can get around the new six person ruling. Just make sure you've got guns with you when you drink your beer.'

'Course it is. Posh bastards,' rock band Reverend & The Makers wrote on their account.

But it was actor and comedian David Schneider who summed up the contradiction in the government's messaging: 'Today from the government, a summary: 'Don't meet up as more than 6 people or you'll be breaking the law'. Also: 'Vote for our bill to break the law'.'

People face fines of up to £3,200 if they do not abide by the new measure, which applies to both indoor and outdoor settings.

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