The growing web of Tory corruption, sleaze and murky deals are driving growing anger at Boris Johnson’s government. And he looks on the back foot.
The latest phase of the corruption scandal opened with the revelations about Owen Paterson lobbying for those who paid him.
It showed a dark web of profiteering and money making by politicians. Even the pandemic provided a useful opportunity for the Tories to cash in.
Paterson was being paid to advocate on behalf of two companies during the pandemic. He won them multi-million-pound government deals as ordinary people watched their loved ones die.
Now there is a new revelation every few days. Last week we learned MPs have claimed £1.3 million from taxpayers to rent flats in London while letting out their own properties.
Johnson claims Britain “is not remotely a corrupt country”, while he leads the way for the Tories to cover their interests.
Johnson stayed in a Spanish holiday home last month owned by Tory peer Zac Goldsmith’s family.
The villa, which normally costs £25,000 a week to rent, was held by an offshore trust based in multiple tax havens. Two property companies owned by Goldsmith’s family owe £20 million in unpaid taxes and fines.
Johnson has refused to declare the free use of the luxury property claiming it’s unconnected with political activities.
Yet in 2019 Johnson handed Goldsmith a seat in the House of Lords after he lost his seat as an MP. Goldsmith is a close friend of Carrie Johnson, Boris Johnson’s wife.
Johnson has already been caught out over the funding of another holiday from a Tory donor and his £200,000 Downing Street flat refurbishment. Meanwhile, a quarter of MPs had second jobs making more than £4 million in extra earnings a year. And half of all ministers who left office in Johnson or Theresa May’s governments later took up jobs with companies related to their government areas.
Many are still in either the House of Commons or Lords.
On the back of the disgrace, culture secretary Nadine Dorries reminded colleagues in a WhatsApp group that the Tory party has been through worse.
She pointed out how they managed to win the 2010 general election despite the 2009 expenses scandal, describing this as a “billion times worse” than the latest debacle.
Dorries’ confidence that the Tories can yet again get away with more crimes is supported by the consistent lack of opposition and backlash from the Labour Party.
In one poll last week Labour had a six-point lead over Johnson, with 40 percent saying they would vote Labour. The stench of corruption should be enough to ditch Johnson. Even some of his own MPs are concerned that he is no longer an asset.
But Labour’s timid so-called opposition may still enable Johnson to survive.