*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Leader comment: Johnson is disgraced. Why isn’t this being made clear?

by
15 July 2022

IT HAS been remarked that it was a trivial matter that brought Boris Johnson down at last; but the bigger the fault, the easier he found it to divert attention and avoid personal liability. It is fitting that he was ousted in the end for lying. It remains imponderable that he was elected for the same reason. The list of large faults is easy to begin, hard to conclude. It contains, among other things, the long-term damage to the UK’s economy and international relations caused by Brexit; the threatened break-up of the Union as a consequence; the lives lost in the Covid pandemic through indecision and chaos; the jeopardising of the Good Friday Agreement by an erratic and belligerent approach to the EU; the narrowing of the criteria for preferment, making loyalty of greater value than competence — and, including the removal of ministers if their competence was interpreted as rivalry; the courting of the right wing of the Conservative Party with ill-thought-out populist gestures; the shrugging off of the country’s responsibility to asylum-seekers; the flash-in-the-pan interest in climate change; the diverting of UK aid; and on and on.

Most seriously, of course, is the damage that Mr Johnson has done to public standards and trust. By lying so willingly, so automatically, and so blatantly — his refusal to correct errors of fact even when reprimanded by officials became notorious — he has made the UK less governable. He further degraded politics by smearing opponents and dragooning colleagues to parrot his lies. The unity and generosity with which the country met the Covid threat was squandered by Partygate. His fixation on a bluff, vague fantasy of an ever-more prosperous future, in which even he could not have believed, undermined any chance that the Government might have of persuading the country to meet the present financial crisis with honesty, restraint, and sacrifice.

Mr Johnson has been drummed out of office in disgrace. There is no doubt about this. And yet it does not look like disgrace, not least because he is still in 10 Downing Street. And this matters. It adds to the otherworldliness of the sales pitches by his would-be successors, as each attempts to give the impression of having had no part in the Government’s chaotic performance up till now.

Worse, it does not rule out a return to power for Mr Johnson in the future. “If I had my time again. . . ,” he said last Tuesday, shortly before the wave of resignations began. He was referring to the decision not to reprimand Christopher Pincher MP when at the Foreign Office (a lapse of judgement which would most probably have got Mr Johnson suspended had he been a serving bishop). But examples from around the world suggest that electorates can be worryingly forgetful and distressingly persuadable. There is another Marcos in charge of the Philippines; Donald Trump remains at liberty. The cleansing of the temple at Westminster, if it is ever to get clean and stay clean, will require more than a light brushing over with the soft brooms currently being wielded by the Conservative leadership candidates. Tables need to be overturned.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

 

Church Times/RSCM: 

Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Church Times/Canterbury Press:

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

Early bird tickets available

 

 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)