Boris Johnson may be unusually contemptuous of constitutional and ethical norms, but this was hardly a secret before he became prime minister. At a leaders’ debate in 2019, the audience openly laughed when he claimed to believe that “truth matters.” Yet it was an indulgent, giggling laugh: as if a loveable little scamp, his mouth smeared with chocolate, had solemnly denied raiding the sweetie-jar. That sniggering complacency is as dangerous to our constitution as any prime ministerial misdeed.
Who among us, we ask wryly, has not unlawfully suspended parliament? Or misled the House of Commons? Or threatened to ignore parliamentary legislation and break international law? Why should we care if a prime minister, like Boris Johnson, brings into the heart of government a special adviser who had been found in “contempt of parliament” only months earlier?
3 August 2021 – Dr Robert Saunders, Reader in Modern British History