Politics

How much is too much for the Conservatives?

We have yet another example given to us that Boris Johnson clearly does not think that the rules apply to him. Not even those placed on him by a wedding vow. His history of extramarital relationships is already known but we can add another to the list from over the years. Jennifer Acuri has added her own tale to that of a four-year affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt, and yet the reaction from most in Conservative circles has been a shrug of the shoulders and maybe a muttered “Well, so what?” Because this is par for the course as far as Johnson is concerned.

Boris Johnson has never been motivated by an idea of public service, furthering the interests of the nation and conducting himself in a manner befitting of the office he has been entrusted with. He also shows his contempt of scrutiny and accountability in every action he takes. Proroguing Parliament was just an indicator of that. His handwritten note describing Parliamentary debate as a rigmarole rather than an important and necessary hurdle for legislation to pass through just shows that in even harsher light. That contempt is now embodied in a Press Secretary who trots out the same response time after time.

Johnson is not even a top-tier politician who fell prey to distractions and temptations. He’s gives the impression that he’s actively gone looking for those distractions and temptations, using public life as a shield against too much backlash or consequences. His public life can fund a divorce, or renovating a flat with public money. I’ve often thought that Johnson does not have any fixed political pillars in his makeup. He is the ultimate populist following public opinion, jumping on a bandwagon to boost his own standing within the party and externally as well. One of the lures of public life is high status. Johnson wanted to be able to say he was Prime Minister. He just didn’t want to do anything that the job required him to do.

Now, I do not deny that the coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented situation that no modern Prime Minister has had to deal with. But it is hard to imagine a worse man to be in charge of the response, while also still trying to bring an end to the protracted Brexit talks, that resulted in an agreement that has caused such chaos for small and medium-sized businesses trying to export their goods, and that Johnson was so completely unaware of the contents that he immediately tried to get around, leaving the country in potential breach of international law. He was trying break a deal that he had just signed. Surely, he would have read it and known what was in it before he agreed to its terms by putting his signature on it. Besides that, he demonstrated that his carefully crafted persona of the jolly slightly scatter-brained Englishman, who goes into adverse situations with a smile and a can-do attitude is useless for governing. Even more so when it is critical to listen to people who are far smarter than you, who have a much better grip of the situation (because they’ve bothered to put the work in in the first place) and who do not lie when asked difficult questions that might have unpleasant answers that the public and your party do not want to hear.

And now, we have yet another example of less than exemplary behaviour from the Prime Minister. On top of his bungling of the COVID response and the unfolding disaster of his Brexit deal, just how much more are Conservatives, who rolled the dice and decided to give him a chance, willing to take?

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