One Year of Boris Johnson
TruePublica Editor: Yesterday, the 12th December was the first anniversary of the “stonking” election victory that brought Boris Johnson to No10 Downing Street – over what proved to be the worst electoral performance for Labour in a hundred years. It was, without doubt, one of the most important elections for Britain in modern history.
Primarily, that election was won by wanting to end the pain of Brexit on the one hand and not to have Jeremy Corbyn in power on the other. It led to the same majority as Margaret Thatcher in 1979 – hers at 43.9 per cent of the vote, his at 43.7 per cent.
A great wave of optimism swept in for the ‘leavers’ with the ‘Ultras’ in the Conservative party itself to become ever more demanding. The ‘red wall’ became something we’d never heard of before.
Three months later – it went terribly wrong.
When the pandemic became news and its deadly consequences were being played out in Italy, Johnson – in true Trumpian style, shook hands with as many people as he could muster on national television and ignored it. Although his government had just two years earlier war-gamed the potential of a global pandemic, they decided to cover up its revealing results and do nothing. Johnson then neglectfully failed to prepare for the first wave in the spring, and incompetently failed to do so for the second wave in the autumn. He was too late ordering PPE and sent thousands of NHS staff ‘over the wall’ to face an unknown enemy without full protection. He then failed to even attempt to protect the elderly, those in care homes and those that were vulnerable to the deadly nature of this disease.
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Johnson’s haphazard, detail lazy and largely incompetent approach to the crisis has directly led to thousands of deaths. The government is now being sued for negligence by individuals, families, public health and legal professions alike. Failing to stockpile PPE was one thing, failing to put together a workable test and trace system proved to be just as bad. Equally as cynical was taking this once in a lifetime crisis and viewing at it as little more than a political opportunity to exploit.
Johnson, taking the advice of people who should never have been anywhere near the seat of democracy went on a rampage – steering HMS Brittania away from calm waters. Laws that under normal circumstances would never have seen the light of day were passed under the cover of the pandemic. Parliamentary scrutiny was cast into the wind in an emergency and Johnson, aided by sycophants and cronies threw everything they had at it to give themselves powers not seen since the time of Henry VIII.
The result, as we can now see more clearly was appalling. Despite throwing more money in combatting Covid-19 than any other G7 country except for Canada, Britain managed the accolade of being world-beating by suffering the second-highest death rate outside of Italy.
During this time, the government saw fit to hand tens of billions of taxpayers money in lucrative contracts to their donors and friends, enriching some of them beyond their wildest dreams. It also saw fit to throw experts and professionals under a career shattering bus to save itself from its own failures. It attacked and alienated the civil service when it was needed the most and ended up in briefing wars, culture wars and infighting when it should have been concentrating on its primary function – to protect its citizens.
It also decided to take a fight to the judiciary, the media and the very institutions that got it into power in the first place. It undermined the NHS and is now overthrowing democracy by forcing out the leaders of the Electoral Commission and then destabilising civil society by doing the same to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The former is threatened with extinction for highlighting Russian influences over Downing Street – itself yet another scandal any government in normal times would have resigned in shame over.
Whilst all this was going on, people were dying before their time – and then there was Brexit. The former was a largely unavoidable global pandemic, the latter was the political choice of the Conservative party. In the middle of a global pandemic, Brexit should have been shelved for short time. The EU offered to extend the transition period. Johnson rejected it and then failed to do a deal. He then recklessly threatens to send gunboats to French fishermen.
The government has taken the choice to allow everyone to shop, mix and party over Christmas – a third wave is inevitably coming – and more avoidable deaths will occur because of it. You’d have to be blind not to see that. And it will coincide with the chaos that is already building in British ports.
When New Year’s Eve arrives, most people will gratefully wave goodbye to a truly awful 2020. No doubt we’ll see some Brexiteers who have still decided not to look at the evidence, celebrating their freedom from the EU. Then reality will quickly grab us all by the neck and give us a good shake to remind us of the real-world situation we now find ourselves in. It’s already knocking at our door.
It is a matter of documented fact that Brexit has cost £200billion in lost GDP in just four years. The same can be said of the collapse of inward investment into business, along with research and development, a critical component to innovation and future prosperity. It is also a fact that the City of London has transferred over £1 trillion in assets to the benefit of the EU whilst American vulture funds have set up offices in their place. Entire professions are set to be ravaged and ruined as business activity is expected to sink by at least £200billion a year from 2021 – for who knows how long. The government itself has calculated this loss to continue for at least a decade.
The government has only just woken up to this reality and last week they thought it might be a good idea to create its ‘No-deal Brexit nightmare scenario squad’ at No 10. Seriously. The Times reports that – “Boris Johnson has set up a secretive unit in Downing Street to co-ordinate the government’s response to the “nightmare scenario” of a no-deal Brexit added to a surge in Covid-19 cases and extreme winter weather. The question is what happens when you combine all that with Covid and a no-deal Brexit.”
A rational person might have thought about this a bit more than a few days before an epic national crisis is expected.
Over the last four years, the benefits of Brexit have become nothing but more and more illusory, its promise as useful as a mirage on the horizon as we make our final approach. But still, it’s head in the sand for this government. They’ve spent nearly five thousand million pounds on a campaign aimed at business where more than 60 per cent of have not prepared because they don’t know what Brexit is. And as of today – they still don’t.
In Rishi Sunak’s spending review statement just a few weeks ago, he deliberately failed to mention Brexit once. Moreover, he has failed to prepare for it. The biggest political, constitutional and economic challenge this country has faced in its long history – and not a word from the Chancellor – the man holding the purse strings. You know why – because he doesn’t believe in it.
Even among Brexit’s most ardent of advocates, a new level of deception has had to be adopted in a vain attempt to cover the illusion of Brexit’s sunny uplands. Last week, we saw James Cleverley attempt to say the Withdrawal Agreement was, in fact, the ‘oven-ready’ deal Johnson promised before the election. It was breathtaking in its flagrant, shameless lying as anything coming from the mouths of these people.
It’s now clear that the election boosting ‘oven-ready deal’ was, in fact, just another illusion. And where are all those promised trade agreements? So far, their combined value has not yet reached a third of the trade we currently have with the EU. Trump would have signed anything at all if it made him look good and even that failed.
Internationally, Johnson’s government has been as much as a disaster as Anthony Eden, another Tory completely out of his depth, that ended up trashing Sterling as the world’s reserve currency, which handed it on a plate to the American’s in 1957.
“Global Britain” as Johnson likes to promote it is cutting foreign aid and disbanding the Department for International Development. These actions have been roundly condemned by all former living British PM’s and almost the entirety of the British diplomatic team – both former and in office. The Home Office, administered by career bully Priti Patel is about as mean-spirited as it gets. It likes to stoke up its small-minded nationalism and its newfound isolationism – how very ‘global.’ Boris Johnson’s handling of the pandemic has appalled many leaders around the world who expected the UK to take a leading global role. And he has single-handedly dismantled yet another illusion – that Britain can close its doors to the world and “take back control” in a world and age of globalisation. It was an international collaboration that delivered the vaccine – not this government – and even that led to an international political row that the Tories instigated.
Far from taking back control or uniting the country, Brexit is hastening its disintegration. Come the elections in May, Scottish independence will be demanded. When this is denied by Westminister – the only outcome will be antagonism and yet more division. Northern Ireland is already murmuring about reunification with Ireland. The government has just announced that the new borders (with or without a deal) will create a business red-tape cost of nearly £5billion a year or £96 million a week, that we will all have to pay for. That wasn’t written on the side of a bus, was it?
After ‘spaffing’ billions up the wall in misguided efforts to contain the virus and countless more costs to administer the actual real-world effects of Brexit – there’s a call to raise at least £40 billion a year in new taxes. One new think tank has turned up out of the blue and recommended to the government an eye-watering one-off tax raid of some £250billion on anything of value. Homes, cars, pensions, savings, stocks, shares and speculative investments – the lot. It’s so financially extreme that it makes Jeremy Corbyn look like a neoliberal capitalist on heat. They also recommended that there should be no announcement. It would be an all-out frontal assault on anyone who has prudently saved anything at all to look after themselves. Not one word on the parasites in the City of London laundering over £100billion a year. Not a finger pointed at people like Rishi Sunak who has secretly sheltered his wealth from public scrutiny in offshore funds. No mention of companies using sophisticated accountancy loopholes to get around paying their taxes – just a plain raid on law-abiding citizens.
In this year, Johnson has explicitly encouraged the breaking of international law and undermined the government itself by stuffing it full of incompetent and inexperienced bootlickers. This, of course, does not include the likes of professional weirdo-sociopath Dominic Cummings – who was only sacked after he insulted Johnson’s latest girlfriend. This is not governing – it’s the stuff teenagers do at school.
No other prime Minister we can think of has ever been reprimanded by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for packing government and its agencies with compliant allies. Neither have we ever seen in political life an adviser on ministerial standards, one of the most professional officials in No10 to resign in protest at the PM’s wilful disregard of standards in public life. That row has now turned into a legal battle between the civil service and Downing Street. And to hand a lifetime peerage to a Russian donor with connections to the Kremlin and the KGB is inexcusable at best. Just remember what happened to Profumo. In the meantime, rampant corruption is now flowing through the veins of the government where no moral authority is being exercised – because there are no morals at the top of it.
Johnson has refused, even in the face of public derision to dismiss ministers and top aides no matter how egregious their misdemeanours. Fiascos have included defending an accused rapist who still stalks the dark corridors of Westminster. What employer anywhere in the land would allow that? He stood by Priti Patel despite a report concluding that she bullied civil servants. What employer would get away with that? He stood by Gavin Williamson despite the A-level results fiasco – what right-minded employer would put up with such glaring incompetence? Names such as MP Robert Jenrick and the psycho Dominic Cummings are as synonymous with this governments ineptitude as Chris (the failing) Grayling was with the last.
In the light of all this, Johnson has fully sidelined Julian Lewis, a Tory who won election as chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee whose only crime was to publish the report into Russian interference in British politics that Johnson had sat on for months on end. Honesty is a cross to bear or a career-ending path in this government.
Here we are, one year on. Feeling angry about it all? Want to paint a few homemade placards and let people know how you feel? You better not. The Home Secretary Priti Patel is seeking to make it illegal for protesters to obstruct Parliament, the courts, and the distribution of newspapers or broadcast media in a way that prevents them “exercising their democratic duties”. In reality, this just means banning protests the government doesn’t like.
And instead of attempting to unite our highly fractured and Covid/Brexit scarred country, Johnson announces that devolution was a failure, trolls half the country by taunting it with Brexit, stokes up yet more culture wars and lies through his teeth to everyone else as if some sort of diversionary entertainment.
The Labour party is still infighting. Keir Starmer is still battling the Messiah Corbyn and his followers – and yet Johnson is now -24 in approval rating and the labour leader ahead in the polls. Even Murdoch has given up on Johnson and allowed editors to say what they think.
Soon, the lying will turn into home truths. For instance, the Manchester Evening News reports that Boris Johnson ‘has no plan to level up the North’ one year after the election. It is no great surprise to anyone when it says “the ‘levelling up’ agenda is most striking for its lack of detail” is it?
The ports are in disarray, businesses braced for the crushing red-tape blow that Brexit brings. Hauliers, exporters and importers have been screaming for help. Pharmacies, hospitals, food distribution networks are all threatened – all because we an incompetent gang of lying sycophants who haven’t a clue how to run a government but all the answers on self-enrichment. And people are still dying – and by the looks of it, many more will as well.
One year on – I cannot summon a single atom of sympathy for Boris Johnson who lied his way into office, deceived a nation with his fantasies and was unable to stand up to the challenge of a crisis when we most needed some leadership. The year 2021 will also be our ‘hour of need’ as Covid really cripples the economy and Brexit seizes up what’s left. What an unmitigated disaster for us all.