‘Honest’ Boris Johnson’s attitude to the law is deeply alarming – Scotsman comment

The threat by exasperated Homes for Ukraine sponsors to take legal action against the UK Government over delays in getting refugees into the country underlines how shambolic the British response to this humanitarian crisis has been.

But it also demonstrates something vitally important to democracy in the UK – even the government must adhere to the rule of law.

So while those seeking to provide refuge to Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war in their own homes may find themselves in a state of “utter despair” over the failure to process many visas, they are able to seek redress in the courts. If the Home Office is found in breach of the law, ministers will be forced to act.

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For anyone doubting the seriousness of the complaints and the apparent incompetence of the Home Office – cynics may suspect deliberate obstruction – one case in particular stands out.

A Ukrainian mother applied for a visa about five weeks ago and has received it. However, she is unable to travel to the UK because her daughter, aged under ten, has not received hers.

Why a young child, a refugee fleeing war, should need a visa – when the UK’s insistence on requiring them, unlike other countries, was justified on security grounds – is a question that we would be interested to hear the government answer.

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However, the threat of legal action raises another concern. Will Boris Johnson respond by attacking “activist lawyers” as he has in the past over legal challenges in immigration cases?

Boris Johnson's attitude to the rule of law has been a cause of concern for some time (Picture: Aaron Chown/WPA pool/Getty Images)

Last year, the Faculty of Advocates’ dean Roddy Dunlop was among a number of senior legal figures to express horror at attempts to publicly vilify lawyers for simply doing their job. “Challenges to the executive are a necessary part of our democracy. Anything less would be a confession that we no longer live in a democracy,” he wrote.

Governments have the power to change the law, but they have no right to make political attacks on those who seek to hold them to it.

Such an attitude, coupled with incidents like the illegal suspension of parliament for political purposes during the Brexit debates, suggests Johnson thinks himself above the law.

And that’s worth remembering when he insists he is an “honest man” who only “inadvertently” misled parliament over illegal lockdown parties in Downing Street.

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