Partygate: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are now partners in crime despite apparently fighting each other like ferrets in a sack – Kenny MacAskill MP

Rishi Sunak’s recess has gone from bad to worse with the Partygate fixed penalty fine, but even before then he was struggling. This now looks terminal.

Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a UK Cabinet meeting (Picture: Matt Dunham/WPA pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a UK Cabinet meeting (Picture: Matt Dunham/WPA pool/Getty Images)

Whatever’s was said about his and his wife’s tax affairs, it’s certainly wasn’t a smear. Yet, that seemed his defence when interviewed by a tabloid paper known for its Tory sympathies.

But that line hasn’t washed and someone who looked to be a possible, if not likely, heir to Boris Johnson’s Prime Ministerial office, now finds his political career hanging by a thread. It’s not just his political decisions that have been called into question but his personal judgement.

Rightly so and hopefully it’s the start of more of the UK’s elected kleptocracy being called to account. For it’s far from being a smear, instead it’s a factual and indeed accurate narration of his tax affairs. It’s also a sharp expose of the contempt he and his ilk have for the rules the rest of us common people have to follow.

Now I accept that family should normally be left out of political comment. They are non-combatants and, in any event, whilst you can choose your friends, family’s largely chosen for you. If this were a road traffic offence by his wife or an incident she had whilst out shopping or parking, I’d wholeheartedly agree.

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And to be fair these are rules, largely, though not always followed by all in politics. Minor misdemeanours by ministers’ offspring or relations have rightly been shunned. Similarly tittle-tattle has been derided and treated with the contempt it deserved.

But this is different. It involves his wife and they’ll own assets in joint names. It’s his tax affairs and he’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. Rules over which he presides enable allowances to be passed back and forward and tax liabilities to be shared. To suggest her affairs are entirely private is therefore patently absurd. No such latitude applies to social security claimants where even just a bidey-in can see you sanctioned, if not prosecuted.

Additionally his and her domicile are at issue. He seeks to be UK Prime Minister, yet has a green card for the USA. Mere mortals used to enter lotteries in the hope of obtaining that access to the promised land. Where’s his commitment to the land he hopes to lead?

Similarly, his wife has retained her Indian citizenship and was claiming non-domiciled status, open to only a few. But she largely lives here and her husband’s Chancellor? They’re married and it’s disingenuous to suggest her non-dom status is for any reason other than tax avoidance involving sums that are greater than almost all will earn in a lifetime. Capitalism has no home as the saying goes, or at least the unacceptable faces of it.

It looks like he’s being briefed about by his own. Both the information and timing smack of an inside job. Of course, the residents of Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street don’t need to like each other, though it would help. Now they’re partners in crime over Partygate, whatever may be their personal animus.

Fighting like ferrets in a sack springs to mind, rather than an image of good governance. This is a sign of dysfunctionality at the heart of government, as much as disgraceful behaviour by holders of senior office.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian


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