Partygate: Boris Johnson's abuse of office is setting fire to the UK's unwritten constitution – Kenny MacAskill MP

Partygate’s burning up more than simply Boris Johnson’s political capital.

Labour should have called a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson (Picture: Justin Tallis/WPA pool/Getty Images)
Labour should have called a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson (Picture: Justin Tallis/WPA pool/Getty Images)

The incessant drip of stories is fuelling the fire and he’s running out of road. The Tories can be ruthless when they view the leader as an electoral liability, as even Thatcher discovered. Previously though, whilst the Prime Minister might go, the system remained unscathed.

Not this time, now the very pillars of the British Establishment are being damaged. The abuse of office by a charlatan has shown the impotency of the unwritten British constitution. The judiciary has been sidelined and marginalised.

Parliament has been shown to be supine and capable of being manipulated by an unscrupulous regime, the supposed Mother of Parliaments unable to check outrageous failures by an individual in the highest office. Other countries have impeachment, here the ruling political party’s all powerful.

It’s not simply the abuse of power by a majority government but the failings of the opposition. Labour’s motion to refer the PM to a Privileges Committee with an inbuilt Tory majority was like “being savaged by a dead sheep”, to quote Denis Healey’s immortal riposte.

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Why not a motion of no confidence, which Johnson may well have survived, but would have exposed Tory backbenches as self-serving charlatans? In the court of public opinion, parliament, not just the Prime Minister, has been found wanting.

Other key pillars are likewise being traduced. What does it say about an impartial civil service when so many have been implicated and the Sue Gray report shamelessly delayed?

The Civil Service is meant to represent the interests of the state and people, not just those of a government or a Prime Minister. It’s been compromised and is in danger of even being complicit in this shameful hold-on to power.

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The Metropolitan Police had its troubles before this, but its reputation certainly hasn’t been helped by frankly connivance to suit the Prime Minister. We’re all supposed to be equals in the eyes of the law, but Johnson’s getting special privileges unavailable to others. Dixon of Dock Green or Sir Robert Peel, this is not.

It’s British institutions not just Boris Johnson that are burning up.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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