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The ignominy of Boris Johnson

28th Jan 2022
The ignominy of Boris Johnson

As evident by the fate of the last two successive prime ministers the Tories have an abysmal record of replacing their leader and, with it, the country’s premiers when in power. And it is looking increasingly likely that Boris Johnson will suffer the same embarrassing pre-election exodus.

Expect no “fall-on-your-sword” gesture from Johnson, as exemplified by Theresa May’s and David Cameron’s Brexit-induced departures. Instead, and in true Johnson fashion, his 10 Downing Street exit is looking more chaotic by the minute, due largely to the very character flaws that led him to this crossroad, denial and deceit.

Despite losing multiple jobs for lying, Johnson was elected Tory leader in July 2019. In 1988, he was dismissed from The Times for fabricating a quote. In 2004, he was also “relieved of his duties” as Shadow Arts Minister for, once again, being less than honest about an extra-marital affair, an indiscretion that has dominated his personal life.

He has what is described as ‘an artful way’ of playing fast-and-loose with facts that have made such people as his former boss Max Hastings, editor of the Daily Telegraph, to warn he was ‘unfit to be prime minister.’ He also seems to have little interest or capability in actually doing the job he was elected to do.

Former Tory leader challenger Rory Stewart suggests it is rather ironic that Johnson is under the greatest pressure to resign over a growing list of (at best) half-truths about a succession of illegal government parties held in defiance of Covid restrictions he himself had imposed on the public. The prevarications caused Labour Opposition Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, this month to finally call for the incumbent ruling the country to step down. Johnson had become “the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road” after months of deceit and deception, he told Parliament.

“I have always resisted calling for him to resign. But the Prime Minister has degraded the office of prime minister and lost all authority, not only in his own party but in the country,” Starmer later told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show on January 16.

As often has been the case, Johnson has used the tactic of trying to ride out criticism by ordering an internal inquiry himself, this time by a senior civil servant from his office Sue Gray, but which is expected to be little more than a fact-finding mission. Stewart said he can’t see what future the Prime Minister has, even if he can survive for a few months. He is “badly wounded”. He also described Johnson as “manifestly unsuited to be Prime Minister from the beginning” who should never have been given the top job.

Yet the saga has continued to dominate the headlines with a succession of senior Tories calling for the holder of the highest political office to go, no more starkly than former Brexit Secretary David Davies in the House of Commons.

While Christian Wakeford became the first MP to defect to Labour, William Wragg, Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, publicly revealed that a “number of MPs have faced intimidation” from Government whips for seeking a vote of confidence in Johnson who has always seemed to act as if he is unaccountable.
Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, warned such threats were serious and should be investigated by the police, since MPs were “not above the criminal law”. Yet so far, the Metropolitan Police have steered clear of “partygate”.

Starmer, who was a former Director of Public Prosecutions, has maintained that it was “clear in my own mind that the Prime Minister has broken the rules, broken the law.” But it is far from the first time that Johnson has acted illegally, including in one of his first acts to prematurely prorogue Parliament when the Supreme Court ruled it was unlawful.

While the justified clamour currently is over Johnson proving to be a complete hypocrite in believing the law ought not to apply to him, there are much more forceful rationales for him to be ousted out of office for presiding over the most dismal record in dealing with the Covid pandemic and poorest economic performance in the developed world.

He has instead chosen to distract from the ignominy of his ever dwindling popularity with a series of photo-ops in cosplay uniforms. Little interest he has shown for the job, he convinced a majority of the electorate to vote for him. Like his US populist counterpart Donald Trump, Johnson is in denial that the game is over. . And yet many of his disreputable colleagues appear to refuse, also willing to end the career of who in effect has been their ticket-winner.

(Credit:Andrew Parsons/ No 10 Downing Street)

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