If Matt Hancock hadn’t discovered deep within himself some rudimentary sense of shame and resigned saturday (yes, I do charity work) he will still impose draconian restrictions on our lives, even if he himself grossly violated these restrictions and put his lover on a public salary. So what about our beloved Boris Johnson, that the prime minister not only refused to immediately fire his objectionable former health minister, but declared within hours of it? the sun exposing his lascivious wrongdoing when he “considers the case closed”?
This, first of all, shows that the self-proclaimed “defender of the people” shockingly misjudged the public mood. Johnson may have wanted to deny the press or Dominic Cummings Hancock’s scalp, but how the hell did he think he could get away with it? Over the weekend, I found myself in Suffolk, Hancock’s homeland. People talked about nothing else, and certainly not in sad or softening terms. They were hot. In the room there was what is fashionably called “cutting” – a chainsaw cut for oil.
Second, it shows that while Johnson is talking about “fundamental British values” and ministerial codes of conduct, Johnson is not in the least concerned with quirky old concepts such as honor, honesty, and doing the right thing.
Prior to Hancock’s flagrant misconduct, it was established that Home Secretary Priti Patel intimidated government officials that she worked and had to pay her former Permanent Secretary compensation in the amount of £ 340,000; Housing Secretary Robert Jenrik imposed a £ 1bn plan to develop a conservative donor’s property on a hostile Tower Hamlet council just in time. to save Richard Desmond from £ 45million collection paid to the poorest neighborhood in London; and Gavin Williamson, notoriously incompetent Secretary of Education, chaired exam fiasco which hindered the prospects of tens of thousands of schoolchildren. Any previous prime minister would have fired them quickly if they hadn’t done the right thing and resigned, but they survive and thrive. How bad must a minister behave for Johnson to fire him?
Above all, the prime minister’s unconditional refusal to fire Hancock demonstrates a startling arrogance, an extreme disdain for the normal checks and balances of a democratic society, and the autocratic disregard for attention and accountability that became a defining feature of his two years at No. 10.
At the time, he overshadowed parliament, even as he brags about repatriating his sovereignty from Brussels. The Brexit trade and divorce agreements, the toughest restrictions on British citizens today, and the largest increase in government spending since World War II have all been rammed by the castrated House of Commons with minimal scrutiny.
Large announcements about blocking, quarantine, etc. usually announced to the public first. Fundamental changes are introduced with the help of “legislative instruments” that practically do not require discussion. Johnson treats the prime minister’s questions with disdain, using lies, obfuscation and cheap shots to deflect Keir Starmer’s legitimate investigation. He gets away with it because the Covid restrictions mean few MPs can sit in the chamber, the debate is formal, and the scope for intervention is limited.
“The marginalization of parliament amid a pandemic is shocking,” the authoritative think tank Constitution Unit recently warned. “I say now, Prime Minister, you are on your guard, and I want you to be right about this house,” Speaker Lindsay Hoyle protested earlier this month.
Johnson, himself a former journalist, also avoids legitimate media attention. It gives the appearance of openness. Several days pass without a photo opportunity with the prime minister, or what is known in the trade as “pool clips,” when he stops to speak a few well-polished words – usually containing a headline-grabbing phrase – to a television crew as they walk.
But the Prime Minister sets the rules for these meetings, and journalists must accept the mercenary crumbs that he throws at them. I can hardly remember the last time he gave journalists the opportunity to ask questions and conduct continuous interrogation. I can’t recall that he did a detailed interview with the BBC or any other British TV channel, as he appeared on The Andrew Marr Show six months ago. He is known to have abandoned Andrew Neil’s resolve during the last general election.
So Johnson gets away with scandal after scandal, offense after wrongdoing, failure after failure.
It dodges responsibility for delayed lockdowns and border closures, the spread of Covid-19 to nursing homes, the issuing of lucrative PPE contracts to his friends, and the shocking £ 37bn cost of an ineffective testing and tracking scheme during the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, he postponed a full independent public inquiry into his government’s actions in connection with the pandemic until it stopped causing him great political harm.
He dodges responsibility for lost exports, renewed tensions with Scotland, the disastrous Northern Ireland protocol he signed but now condemns, and all the other dire consequences of Brexit.
He managed not to reveal who paid for his vacation at Mustique last December or the renovation of his Downing Street apartment. He managed to avoid the revelation that he channeled £ 126,000 from public funds to his former lover Jennifer Arcuri as mayor of London. He no doubt thought that he too could ignore Hancock’s infamous behavior, but this time the public, usually the Tory subordinate press and his own advocates, would not let him.
Despite all this, the Conservatives seem to be about to grab another seat in the Red Wall, Batley and Spena, from the Laborites in Thursday by-elections… Johnson will scream while Starmer, a man of impeccable honesty and decency, will be convicted of lack of charisma and may well face a leadership challenge. What a parody.