New Prime Minister, Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, may well be as important a turning point for UK as Brexit – Scotsman comment

As Boris Johnson sees out his last days as Prime Minister, the Conservative party stands at the latest of a series of important crossroads.

The sharpest turn in the road over the past 12 years of Conservative-led government was, of course, the UK’s departure from the European Union, eventually delivered by Johnson.

He will forever be remembered as the politician who was able to “get Brexit done”. While that may seem like a badge of honour to his supporters, the judgement of history is likely to condemn those responsible for this act of national self-harm, as the economic damage caused by erecting barriers to trade and ending freedom of movement continues to hit home.

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However, Johnson must also be remembered for the reason he was forced to quit: serial dishonesty. For his demise might turn out to be his greatest legacy.

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Future Prime Ministers who attempt such blatant deceptions could find MPs are quicker to act, with their fear of the electorate’s judgement sharpened by the experience of crushing by-election defeats. It is important for the health of our democracy that the standards which were eventually upheld remain strong.

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If the dreams of Johnson and some party members of a return to high office are ever allowed come true, a most dangerous message would be sent: that truth does not matter in politics. It simply must.

The ridiculously long process to select his successor – it would have been quicker to call a snap election – has provided another lesson: a party in government should allow its MPs to decide on a new leader. Collectively, they have a much larger mandate than the party’s membership, and the country needs a functioning government.

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Boris Johnson had to be ousted as Prime Minister (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Polls suggest the weeks of debate have already consumed the honeymoon period that Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak may have been expecting. A recent survey put support for Labour’s Keir Starmer ahead of both.

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However, that may change depending on the new Prime Minister’s first decisions, which could be as big a turning point in the fate of the Conservative party and the UK as Brexit.

With soaring energy prices putting lives, businesses and the economy as a whole at risk, our new leader has to understand the scale of the crisis the country is facing. Failure to do so could be catastrophic.

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