Boris Johnson: Tories who enabled dishonest Prime Minister are not only ones who should apologise – Brian Wilson
To end up in a bunker with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dories is as close as it gets to political purgatory, yet Boris Johnson’s fate was always somewhere between predictable and inevitable.
As I wrote in 2019: “The problem Tory members chose to overlook is that few who have had dealings with Johnson ever found reason to trust or respect him. His reputation is as a dishonest chancer.” Every day since has borne that out.
Even in his departure, this awful man could not resist confirming his arrogance. It was the “herd instinct” of lesser mortals that brought him down; the little people too gullible to understand his greatness.
There are long queues to denounce Johnson but that is too easy a get-out for those who facilitated his rise, with eyes wide open and in full knowledge of what to expect – a charlatan who believed in nothing except his own entitlement.
Most obviously, they include the Tory hangers-on who pinned their prospects to “Get Brexit Done” and ruthlessly disposed of Theresa May for trying to make the best of what Brexit had created, particularly with regard to the Irish border enigma.
Anyone who feels a shred of sympathy for Johnson should recall how honourable Tory MPs who resisted his bluster were dealt with – purged, expelled, de-selected to make way for Johnson’s sycophants and the most mediocre Cabinet in modern history.
None of those who clambered aboard the lifeboats this week should be allowed to forget their roles as facilitators of Johnson’s rise to power – or their willingness, nay eagerness, to cover up for his mendacity and incompetence for three long years.
It will be difficult for any successor to shake off that legacy of complicity. If the Tories are hoping to repeat the John Major trick of appearing to come from outside the orbit of his predecessor, they will need to look beyond the discredited names currently being touted.
Even the Brexit tag has lost its appeal. In his last pathetic stand at the dispatch box, Johnson was still shouting about having “got Brexit done” but the latest poll put support for it at 33 per cent while Lib Dem gains in pro-Brexit seats scarcely suggest a mood of national appreciation.
For as long as the Tories are in government, they need a leader who will start re-building bridges to Europe, rather than continuing to burn them. We are not going to re-join the EU, and Keir Starmer is right to say so, but the appeal of Brexit rhetoric – more Johnson lies – is dead and needs to be buried.
However, not only Tories owe us an apology. As this column has consistently pointed out, back to Theresa May and her ‘backstop’ days, Johnson would never have been Prime Minister without Opposition MPs who were either too thick or too cynical to avoid the traps repeatedly set for them.
Every Labour, SNP and Lib Dem MP who shared a division lobby with the hardest Tory right-wingers to defeat Mrs May’s sane, reasonable efforts to defuse Brexit’s Irish border problem shares in responsibility for enabling Johnson.
Under the delusional pretext that if they all blew hard enough, Brexit would fall down, they repeatedly paved the way for the far more obvious step-by-step outcome – Johnson as Prime Minister and a General Election to yield a massive Tory majority.
Never was there a clearer case of achieving the exact opposite of a stated aim – and the beneficiary was always going to be Johnson. Before history is re-written, and if its lessons are to be learned, it is important to understand how Johnson entered Downing Street and not just why he is being forced to leave it.
In Scotland, Johnson was the gift who never stopped giving to the SNP – which is why they wanted him to stay. There is now time and opportunity to reset the political dial. What Scotland, like the rest of the UK, needs is a change of government and direction, not a change of constitution.
With Keir Starmer relieved of the Durham Constabulary’s attentions, that is the case he is now free to build.
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