Utterly dishonest Boris Johnson is on borrowed time - Euan McColm

The whole damned thing is grotesque. While almost a third of children in the UK live in poverty, we are invited to believe that our Prime Minister gave the go-ahead to the £90,000 refurbishment of his Downing Street flat without once pausing to ask who’d be picking up the bill.

It is further suggested we accept there was nothing untoward about a situation which saw a Tory donor pay initial costs for the project only for Boris Johnson to later settle up.

And we are - in this nation where a woman who might need benefits to help raise a third child is forced to prove that this child was conceived through rape - asked to consider Johnson’s behaviour entirely ethically sound.

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The publication on Friday of a report by Lord Geidt - the PM's adviser on minister's interests - into the facts surrounding the revamp of the Government flat Johnson shares with his fiancée Carrie Symonds might offer comfort to Johnson’s acolytes who continue. bafflingly, to place their faith in a man whose only dependable characteristic is his utter dishonesty. Geidt, after all, clears Johnson of breaking the code of conduct. But the report’s contents further advance the case that Johnson is absolutely unfit for the office he holds.

Prime minister, Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street. Picture: PAPrime minister, Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street. Picture: PA
Prime minister, Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street. Picture: PA

Geidt states that Johnson acted “unwisely” by not being more “rigorous” in finding out who had funded the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat. That, I suppose, is one way of putting it. Perhaps you recall the scene in the House of Commons a few weeks back when Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer repeatedly asked the PM whether someone other than himself had “initially” paid for the redecoration of the flat. Johnson was furious, replying that Starmer should know that “I have paid for the Downing Street refurbishment personally.”

Turns out, according to Geidt, that much of the bill was initially paid by Conservative Party vice-chairman Lord Brownlow. His lordship, however, found “no evidence” that Brownlow told Johnson that he had personally settled any bills. Johnson, then, is cleared of wrongdoing by a report that confirms he was unable to give Starmer a straight answer during questioning over the matter.

Geidt was appointed by Johnson after the resignation from the role of standards adviser of Sr Alex Allan. Allan had found, during an earlier investigation, that Home Secretary Priti Patel had behaved towards staff in a manner that could be “described as bullying”. Johnson’s response to that troubling report was to double down on his support for Patel.

Unsurprisingly, our amoral PM is happier to accept the findings of an adviser who finds no wrongdoing. Geidt’s report topped off another vintage week for the worst Prime Minister in living memory.

Two days earlier, Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings appeared in front of a committee of MPs to answer questions about the Government’s handling of the Coronavirus crisis.

During a session lasting more than seven hours, Cummings dropped bombshell after bombshell. Declaring Johnson unfit for the position he holds, he claimed the Prime Minister had initially dismissed Covid a “just a scare story” and suggested that England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty could inject him with the virus live on television to prove it was nothing to get het up about.

Cummings also said Health Secretary Matt Hancock should have been sacked for at least 20 reasons, including “lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room and publicly”.

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Initially, said Cummings, the Prime Minister favoured a “herd immunity” approach to dealing with the virus, which should be allowed to rip through the country.

In the aftermath of Cummings’ appearance in front of committee members, Tory MPs unleashed a co-ordinated response. Cummings had been dismissed as a liar when he tried to justify his decision to break lockdown rules last year and drive his family from London to County Durham so why should he be treated as a reliable witness now? The slight flaw in this line was that those same Tory MPs had rallied round Cummings over his lockdown-breaking trip, insisting he had done nothing wrong. But we do not need Dominic Cummings to tell us Boris Johnson is unfit for office. The Prime Minister had repeatedly shown us that this is so.

While a journalist, he was fired for lying and this tendency towards dishonesty has flourished during his political career. Johnson may have led the successful Brexit campaign in 2016 but his passion for leaving the EU was entirely bogus. He did not back Brexit because he thought it best for the UK but because he believed that, by doing so, he would maximise his chances of becoming Prime Minister. Johnson knew all that stuff about taking back control and investing in the NHS and striking exciting new trade deals was bullshit but he played along because the realisation of his ambitions was more important to him than the prosperity of the nation he now leads.

One day, it is to be hoped, all of this will matter. But, for now, a depressing number of people continue to agree that, rather than being naked, Emperor Johnson is dressed in the finest clothes.

A poll on Friday found support for Johnson’s Tories had risen, despite the Cummings evidence. If there were an election tomorrow, 44 per cent of UK voters would back the Conservatives compared with just 32 per cent who’d support Labour. The clearer Johnson’s unfitness for office becomes, the more people seem to like him.

For how long, I wonder, can this continue? A day must come, surely, when voters will fall out of love with a man who views them with nothing but contempt.



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