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28 Apr, 2021 17:44

If shady BoJo was American, he’d have been impeached… but there’s no accountability in antiquated Britain

If shady BoJo was American, he’d have been impeached… but there’s no accountability in antiquated Britain

Boris Johnson is being plagued by allegations questioning his honesty, but the old-fashioned UK system means it’s unlikely voters will ever know the truth. Britain should look at how the US treats presidents accused of wrongdoing.

Shakespeare’s Queen Gertrude famously proclaimed, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” That perfectly sums up Boris Johnson’s conduct in Westminster at his most recent Prime Minister’s Questions. He was practically frothing at the mouth as he ranted about the scandals engulfing him.

The charge sheet has it all: juicy allegations surrounding mystery donors, private expenses, and foreign leaders.

The biggest smoking gun is the refurbishment of BoJo’s Downing Street flat. It’s owned by the state, but every prime minister is given £30,000 to decorate it. However, Boris and his fiancee Carrie Symonds managed to spend £88,000.

According to reports, the initial idea was to have Conservative Party donor Lord Bamford cover the extra cost, but this didn’t happen. So, the Cabinet Office – the state – paid the full amount, but had to be reimbursed for the additional £58,000. That led to a blind trust being mooted, where donors could give money to be used to maintain the PM’s accommodation.

BoJo’s former top aide Dominic Cummings revealed on his blog, “I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended.”

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Last week, emails were unearthed that show another peer, Lord Brownlow, had given £58,000 to the Conservatives “to cover the payments the party has already made on behalf of the soon-to-be-formed Downing Street Trust.” This was countered by a spokesman who said the “costs of wider refurbishment have been met by the prime minister personally.”

The sums involved could even be higher, with some suggestions estimating the final total may have been as high as £200,000. Also worth considering is the fact that last year, Boris apparently complained about his £150,000 salary. By becoming PM, he had to give up his £250,000 deal as a Daily Telegraph columnist, and he also has six kids to support.

It’s a confusing tale, but the big issue is that neither Boris nor his government is offering a straight answer as to where the money came from. If he was going to pay for it himself, then why all the apparent skulduggery? His most trusted former lieutenant has already confirmed publicly that he was angling to get the cash from someone else. Were political favours offered? Were there any backroom quid-pro-quos?

Bu there’s more. At the same time, there are questions being asked about his relationship with a couple of hugely influential figures who had direct access to Boris via text.

Over the past couple of weeks, it’s emerged Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman messaged BoJo about his failed plan to buy English football club Newcastle United. On June 27 last year, MBS texted the PM to say, “We expect the English Premier League to reconsider and correct its wrong conclusion.”

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Boris then asked his special enjoy to the Gulf, Edward Lister, to intervene, who relayed via text, “I’m on the case. I will investigate.” Tycoon James Dyson was also able to text Boris directly to ask about tax arrangements if his staff were to work in the UK making ventilators, as the business is based in Singapore.

Whether it’s dealing with a global pandemic or a foreign leader’s investments, how can it be right and proper for them to bypass official channels and text the PM privately?

The controversy surrounding BoJo has also intensified thanks to the lingering allegation of whether he said he would rather have “bodies pile high in their thousands” than enter a third lockdown. The PM denies saying it, but two witnesses claim he did.

The issue is that each of these incidents ask serious questions about Boris’s honesty. They are not complicated political questions. All we need to know is, did they happen? And if so, why?

In America, Donald Trump was derided by millions, but at least he faced a jury of his peers twice, in 2019 and 2021. The 45th president was impeached for his conduct. And let’s not forget, Bill Clinton suffered the same fate in 1999 and was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. Neither was convicted, as the required two-thirds Senate majority of 67 wasn’t reached.

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However, the US system is light years ahead of Britain’s. To potentially remove a prime minister, a vote of no-confidence has to be delivered. That last happened in 1979, and before then in 1924.

Boris could be ousted if his own party members turned against him, but with the Conservatives sitting on an 80-seat majority, why would any of those turkeys vote for Christmas?

It’s a disgrace that Britain’s political establishment is so rooted in the past. Westminster is a relic that belongs to Edwardian times. Politicians have to call each other “my honourable friend,” and when addressing the house they are obliged to say “Mr Speaker.” The same Mr Speaker masquerades in a black cape and even has a pretentious daily procession that wouldn’t look out of place in ‘Game of Thrones’. MPs even still vote by walking down ‘Aye’ or ‘No’ corridors.

It’s in this den of olde worlde rules and values that Boris looks like he’ll wriggle free like an eel, because there’s no proper structure to nail down the truth.

It shouldn’t be an option to explain your actions to voters and offer full transparency.

BoJo should be put on the stand and made to come clean about what’s gone on. Honesty is not a privilege – it’s a requirement.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.