Partygate: Boris Johnson appears to be turning into Donald Trump in his desperation to stay in power – Scotsman comment

For the most part, Boris Johnson has not deserved the many comparisons made between him and Donald Trump by his political opponents.

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson pictured together in 2019 (Picture: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson pictured together in 2019 (Picture: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

However, while he has obviously not summoned a mob of his supporters to London and then sent them off to storm Parliament, this week’s events saw him stray into dangerous territory that has all the hallmarks of the former US president.

When he accused Labour leader Keir Starmer of “failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” for sex abuse as he desperately sought to defend himself over the Partygate affair, he was guilty of making a false and foul accusation, under the protection from defamation afforded by the House of Commons.

But Johnson’s desperate tactic was worse than it may have first appeared because his remarks risk bringing the deranged pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory across the Atlantic to infect public discourse in the UK.

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Videos of the Prime Minister’s slur have reportedly been shared on anti-vaccine channels on social media app Telegram as “proof” of an alleged cover-up of child abuse.

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Partygate: Sajid Javid distances himself from Boris Johnson's Jimmy Savile slur ...

For those happily unaware of QAnon, it is a bizarre movement based on the idea that Trump, regarded as a near-messianic figure, is attempting to break up a paedophile ring of high-profile figures in the US. It has promoted bogus claims that the basement of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington was used to abuse children, even though there is no actual basement.

After sustained criticism of Johnson's remarks – including by a lawyer for Savile’s victims, who said they were “fundamentally baseless” and that victims were “disgusted” – his attempted ‘clarification’, in which he claimed he had not been attacking Starmer's “personal record”, mimicked a much-used Trump tactic: a disgraceful remark followed some time later by a half-hearted climbdown.

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Among those able to see through this distasteful stuff was Munira Mirza, Johnson’s head of policy, whose resignation letter highlighted his failure to apologise for his “scurrilous accusation”. Her principled decision to quit should put Cabinet ministers still defending Johnson to shame.

The American civil rights activist and poet Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Repeatedly, Johnson has shown us who he truly is – a dishonourable man unfit to hold any high office. It’s time to believe him.

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