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Abandoning the Sinking Rat: Boris Johnson Resigns

Like the political equivalent of a cockroach, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived and endured one strike after another. His credibility was shot, his mendacity second to none. He lost the confidence of a party that delighted in his buffoonish performances and appeal. Fearing electoral punishment, senior ministers and aides have left his side. Labour opposition leader, Sir Keir Starmer, found himself making a witticism, calling this the first instance in history of the ship leaving the sinking rat.

No chronology on this would be sufficient. But the recent turn of events has been something verging on spectacular. There was partygate, which demonstrated the fullness of contempt shown by the Prime Minister and his staff to their constituents. In April, he was fined for breaking his government’s own lockdown rules, having attended a gathering for his birthday in June 2020. He also apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” party held in the Downing Street garden held during the first lockdown. Despite showing some contrition, he believed, for the most part, that he had been following the rules and operating within them.

The occasion led to fines aplenty, though even the Police, at some point, drew a line underneath the sad and sorry saga. Sue Gray, the senior civil servant tasked with investigating a series of social events held by political staff, came up with a grave conclusion. “The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.”

On June 16, the Tory leader survived a no-confidence vote from his own party, in which four out of ten parliamentarians voted against him. Most PMs would have made a hasty exit. Not Johnson, who seemed quixotically willing to make his last stand.

Then came the by-election losses in Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield of June 23rd. Instead of treating them as symptoms of a malady requiring treatment, Johnson simply put them down to the UK “facing pressures on the cost of living” and the fact that “in mid-term, governments post-war lose by-elections.”

The latest, and typically seedy entry in the scandals inventory, was the sexual harassment imbroglio involving Chris Pincher (“Pincher by name, Pincher by nature,” Johnson is said to have quipped). As Conservative deputy-chief whip, he went to a private members’ club in London on June 29, got sozzled and was accused of groping two men.

A number of sexual assault allegations followed, some duly dusted for the occasion. Despite a formal complaint being made against Pincher, Johnson denied knowledge of the “specific allegations.” Not so, suggested former civil servant, Lord McDonald, seeing that he briefed the PM about it. True to form, Johnson subsequently admitted he had been told in 2019, and regretted appointing Pincher to the party position in the first place.

Over the course of 48 hours, the Tory front bench was dramatically thinned of members. Law makers and government officials left in an exodus of calculated and self-interested disaffection. Stripped of support from across the most powerful figures in the party, the decision was made.

The resignation speech exuded reluctance, sounding more like a resume pitch for a return to the job. It reflected the spectacular tone-deafness of his rule, with Johnson going so far as to lament those “Darwinian” rules that govern Westminster politics, driven by the hungry, remorseless “herd”. The herd had moved and found their quarry.

Johnson extolled his government’s pandemic response on the vaccine front despite incompetence and bungling that led to the deaths of tens of thousands during the pre-vaccine phase. Confused health directions on everything from mask wearing to whether Christmas might go ahead as usual, did not help. When those responses firmed up in the form of strict lockdown rules, Johnson, his colleagues, and advisors flouted them with condescension and arrogance.

While being self-congratulatory on his own Brexit record, the report card is far from glowing. Despite advertising the deal to electors as “oven ready,” the withdrawal agreement with the EU proved half-baked and raw at the core.

Even after reaching an accord with the EU, his government, last month, introduced plans to override parts of it, thereby threatening relations with the Union, the unity of the United Kingdom and the Irish peace process. Only Johnson could term scrapping sections of the Protocol, which covers the way goods enter Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, “a relatively trivial set of adjustments.”

There was little chance Johnson would leave Ukraine out of his resignation speech. Detractors, and even some of those sympathetic to him, had noticed how willingly he seemed to extol the virtues of Ukraine as each crisis engulfed him. He was the first leader of any major Western nation state to visit Kyiv, and also pledged a number of weapons, including the Javelin and NLAW missiles, and M270 precision-guided rocket launchers.

Another largely neglected legacy of the Johnson years should be noted. Domestically, his conduct in centralising power during the course of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic at the expense of Parliament has emboldened the executive arm of government and damaged accountability. In August 2019, he suspended, or prorogued Parliament for 5 weeks, just prior to the return of MPs from the summer recess. The following month, the UK Supreme Court declared the prorogation unlawful. “It is impossible for us to conclude, on the evidence which has been put before us, that there was any reason – let alone good reason – to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks”.

Through the course of his political career, Johnson never changed. He had his supporters, his conspirators, his plotters. He stayed true to his lies, abject opportunism and tabloid-styled villainy. His administration proved rotten, but so were the various figures that gave him succour, including the indignant former advisor Dominic Cummings who now plays the role of stone-thrower in chief against his former boss.

Even now, some journalists and commentators detected throbbing notes of magnanimity and grace in his resignation speech, showing again how a profession that Johnson himself corrupted with such glee cannot be trusted to assess this legacy.

 

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19 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    As Joris Bonkfist-Johnson sinks slowly in the bottom of the potty, flushable at last, we observe the still remaining Your United Crappy Kingdom or YUCK, post brexit. Pretending the maps are still dominated by pink, having once been huge on slavery, sugar, pilfering, stolen bases, resources, mines, ships and weapons, the old pie and pint chaps in retirement must have filled the pubs with the sound of unsound argument to piss off the frogs, huns, krauts, eyeties and other lesser types (Africa starts at Calais) and go it alone again under the union jack. The world is actually jack of the union that oppresses Wales and Scotland, while abusing and manipulating Nth Ireland to suit. Boris collaborated with Threadneedle St. and the City predators to run the Tories who ran England, which then dominated the rest, Easy? Efficient? This stage of mutual bumboy advancement is over. So? Next?

  2. Douglas Pritchard

    AUKUS has always struck me as a decision made late at night between 3 or 4 loons over several bottles of port.
    The next day one one them forgot the name of his drinking buddy.
    When time sorts out the fact that Boris and Scomo were a bit compus mentus, and Jo is on a sticky wicket, should we still be committed to rash decisions that didn t look so bright in the morning.
    Can
    t we still take the French subs because they have lovely lines, and are available in colours other than black?

  3. A Commentator

    It’s a pity Putin isn’t held similarly accountable for his actions
    Those that deride western democracy might explain why western leaders that make poor choices go.
    Putin doesn’t

  4. Henry Rodrigues

    In democracies, however imperfect at times, there are ways and means to get rid of the dictators, murderers and shonks.

    In autocracies, as practiced by Putin and Xi Jin Ping, there is no possibility of change without mass upheaval and widespread bloodshed and therein lies the stupidity of blind adherence to ideology.

  5. GL

    Pretty much wraps up BoJo the Clown in 5 minutes,

  6. Socrates.

    Typo:
    Surely meant, “stinking rat”

  7. Favio

    So UK Clown in Chief, BoJo, parties with his Ministers, the in-the-know group, during lockdown, secure in the know-ledge that the threat of the ‘virus’ with flu-like symptoms was near zero for healthy individuals; then 2 years later and after throwing petrol on the Ukraine-Russia conflag (supplying Javelin and NLAW missiles, and M270 precision-guided rocket launchers), he calls it quits. Good riddance.

  8. Canguro

    GL, made my day. Great comment, thanks. Sums the man up perfectly.

  9. Douglas Pritchard

    Doesn`t all this make you wonder of the process that enabled this turd ( and many like him) to rise to the position, in an inteligent nation, and a democratic process.
    Maybe the process needs review?
    Is the westminster system out of date?
    And is it more understandable in a nation with “poor” educational standards?

  10. Fred

    GL: That’s not fair – I hurt myself laughing.

  11. Henry Rodrigues

    GL…. best description of an incompetent showboating fraud. As for his colleagues, ditto, for letting him get away with his nonsense.

    Is it just coincident or all rightwing idiots, born liars ? Trump, Scummo, Bolsonaro Modi…………..

  12. Canguro

    Henry, my take on your question is that anybody, anybody, who decides to adhere to the ‘right wing’ side of politics is a flawed creature; lacking the requisites to prosecute a life in politics to the purported benefit of the electors who put that person, he or she, into office.

    They tend, as you and most of us appreciate, to be self-centered, misogynistic, egomaniacal, regressive in attitude, disinterested in general questions such as health, education, infrastructural maintenance & development, ecological and environmental management & maintenance, the general well-being of the polity and more in the same vein of responsible approach to nurturing the community that they govern for the best outcomes of all.

    Instead, obsessed and riven by oppositional disagreement, maximising self-interest at whatever the cost, by default falling into lying, hypocrisy, scandal, corruption, failure to act according to the actual need of the issues that arise and need attention, acting as purse-holders for their corporate benefactors… it’s an ever-present thorn in the consciousness that the electorate at large continue to act as if this type of political representative actually has any merit or be worthy of consideration as the member for that particular electorate.

    Come the day, that we have a degree of awareness that relegate these types to the deserved dustbin of history, to rot, alongside the Trumps, Johnsons, Morrisons & Duttons and the rest of their rotten ilk.

  13. Henry Rodrigues

    Canguro….. I agree. . These shonks are there for anything but the benefit of the general population, as opposed to the wishes of their supporters and like minded travellers. That’s why they are referred to a populists, lot of flag waving, torrents of baseless facts and pure untruths, flung about with abandon (because no one others to check), rows of shiny teeth and coiffured hairdos and shifty eyes and demeanors. Down the crapper with the whole lot of them.

  14. Douglas Pritchard

    When we refer to someone as “right wing”, this automatically creates the label “nut job, lying, self centred…..”, and warns any user of the consequences which will result from any contact.
    Society knows this stuff, but seems to enjoy a walk on the wild side.
    We like a bit of rough handling to relieve the boredom?

  15. A Commentator

    Western democracy shows that did leaders are removed.
    Good.
    Meanwhile, in Russia…

  16. Douglas Pritchard

    AC, Russia is confident that they have NOT appointed a dud, so he is allowed to stay in office while he gets on with the job.
    Here we rotate them like crazy, and each new leader has to spend the first time space fixing the problems created because we got the last one wrong.
    I give you but one example. Aukus created by 3-4 loonies. mistakenly appointed by democacies, has upset all our neighbours and sending us on a crazy path towards a nuclear arms race. How do you find a crew for a vessel which is destined to spend its entire life submerged, (and who are not nutters?)?
    We had a neat solution before the septics interferred.Yet again.

  17. A Commentator

    Would you prefer that USA wasn’t a superpower?
    Just leave it to the benevolent Putin and the CCP to carve up their spheres of influence?
    What a depressing and brutal world anti USA types want

  18. Douglas Pritchard

    AC, Its an equally depressing thought to have to choose between Putin and Biden.
    Can you honestly say that USA represents some sort of pinnacle to existance?
    They represent 2 ends to the spectrum.
    I`m convinced that there are other ways which value a log term solution for all concerned.
    Thats worth talking about in an atmosphere, not prioritizing guns and god.

  19. A Commentator

    I say USA is a flawed democracy. It is a complicated society that does well to hold all that diversity together.
    Parts of the USA are like Mt Isa on steroids, and many of their challenges relate to size and scale. Because of the size of the country, it is like having Mt Isa as a city of half a million, and a state capital.
    The larger US cities are worldly and sophisticated
    Those that make broad criticism and generalisations about ” America” and “Americans” appear ignorant.
    Despite its faults, the notion of international relations being sorted out between the CCP and Putin is simply abhorrent.
    So I’m very supportive of the USA being engaged in international relations
    Those that would have it otherwise really haven’t thought it through

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