Leader comment: Boris Johnson becomes more Trump-like by the day

Watching American President Donald Trump ride roughshod over democratic norms, peddle lies about opponents, and deny evident truths about himself provokes the question of why fellow Republicans are happy to keep quiet, to indulge his appalling behaviour.

The exasperated witness wonders why GOP members of the Senate and the House of Representatives don’t look to their consciences and conclude that they have a moral duty to call out Trump’s excesses.

The only viable explanations would appear to be that those politicians either heartily support their president’s hateful and divisive
rhetoric or that they prefer to keep quiet and save their own political skins.

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Neither reason is especially comforting.

The same question about keeping quiet while a leader runs out of control now applies to members of the Conservative Party under the leadership of Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister’s behaviour becomes more Trump-like by the day.

And those acolytes who either ignore or seek to excuse his outrageous excesses are no better than the Republicans who meekly accept the worst of Trump.

Over the weekend, we witnessed the unedifying sight of Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers dismissing legitimate questions about the provision of public funds to company owned by a young woman who was personally close to Mr Johnson during his time as London Mayor. An investigation into this matter was, said Ms Villiers, politically motivated.

Even if that were so, it has no impact on whether the Prime Minister has questions to answer about money granted to Jennifer Arcuri’s company.

It is quite clear that Mr Johnson does have questions to answer and Ms Villiers attempt to deflect from this matter was grubby, indeed.

Yesterday, asked whether he had declared an interest – under the Greater London Authority’s code of conduct – when public funds were being given to Ms Arcuri’s company, the Prime Minister said no conflict of interest existed.

This was a far from satisfactory response to a serious question about the integrity of the occupant of 10 Downing Street.

Also of concern is Mr Johnson’s continued use of deeply inflammatory language on the subject of Brexit.

Interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday morning, the Prime Minister frequently referred to legislation preventing a No-deal Brexit as “the surrender Bill”. This deliberate attempt to paint opponents of his reckless plans as unpatriotic is shameful.

There must now be Cabinet ministers and senior backbenchers who know that Boris Johnson is leading the Conservative Party and the country along a dangerous path.

If they continue to excuse his behaviour, they are no better than those republicans who have allowed Donald Trump to poison American politics.

While Mr Johnson’s Conservatives continue their annual conference in Manchester, today opposition
parties will meet to discuss the possibility of ousting the Prime Minister and installing a caretaker in his place.

The Scotsman believes that the appointment of a temporary Prime Minister in order to ensure that a damaging No-deal Brexit may
 be avoided is a plan with some merit.

But we also sympathise with those who feel Jeremy Corbyn is the wrong choice for the role.

This being so, we hope all opposition politicians involved in today’s discussions will enter into them with minds open to other possibilities.

The Prime Minister has staked his career on Brexit by 31 October, Deal or No Deal.

For the good of the economy, any attempt by Boris Johnson to take the United Kingdom out of Europe without a workable agreement must be thwarted.