Boris Johnson's fate must serve as a warning to all about importance of honesty – Scotsman comment

The Conservative defenders of Boris Johnson have largely focused on the need to get on with the business of government and the serious issues facing the country, such as the Ukraine war, the cost-of-living crisis and climate change.

And there is absolutely no doubt that all of these matters are extremely important.

However, the suggestion that repeated lies can be overlooked, downplayed or ignored is a contemptible, dishonourable and entirely unacceptable one.

Voters have a right to expect that those they entrust to run the country will tell the truth, unless there is a pressing reason, such as a life-threatening national security issue, not to do so.

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Johnson’s serial dishonesty is bad enough in of itself, but the idea that this should be tolerated is even more dangerous. It is not hyperbole to say that it risks the degradation of our democracy, which is so central to the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy.

If lies become accepted and commonplace, public trust will naturally plummet. Robbed of the ability to have an honest debate about the real issues, politics would necessarily become ever more tribal and clannish.

This was evident in the US, where Donald Trump rallied millions to his side by fomenting cynicism about Washington politics, spreading conspiracy theories and dismissing legitimate criticism as “fake news”, all while lying through his teeth. His biggest lie, that he won the 2020 election, is still causing chaos in American politics.

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Boris Johnson is finished as Prime Minister (Picture: Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images)

Conservative MP Nick Gibb, a former school minister, was among those who made the comparison with the US where, he said, “you worry whether democracy is safe”. “We have to make sure that doesn’t happen in this country. We have to get rid of the rot in our political system,” he told BBC Radio 4.

So Boris Johnson must quit or be forced out. Resignation would be the dignified thing for him to do but, however it is achieved, his departure is imperative for the sake of the nation.

If somehow allowed to remain, his dishonesty will continue to poison public life. Johnson’s fate must serve as a warning to any and all politicians who fail to recognise just how important the fundamental virtue of honesty truly is.

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