Boris Johnson announced on Friday evening that he is quitting the Commons immediately. He jumped before he was pushed.
Johnson had recently received the draft findings of the privileges committee’s inquiry. It examined whether he lied about what he said about breaching lockdown rules during the height of the pandemic.
Johnson said as he went, “It is very sad to be leaving parliament—at least for now—but above all, I am bewildered and appalled that I can be forced out, anti-democratically, by a committee chaired and managed, by Harriet Harman, with such egregious bias.”
As befits the man, that statement blends bluster, falsehoods and threats. It can be no surprise that the committee, even with its Tory majority, has presumably found him guilty—as we will discover on Monday,
He was implicated in fake statements about the serial carousing at Number 10 while ordinary people were not allowed to meet up, attend funerals or visit their dying relatives. He has not escaped the stench from Downing Street’s vomit-stained rooms, or his willingness to “let the bodies pile high” rather than interfere with profit-making.
In much less than four years he has gone from a near-landslide election victory to being chased out as an MP.
Johnson never departed from his belief that there was one set of laws for “little people” and another code entirely for the elite. Even his final honours list, also released on Friday, featured his Partygate fellows.
It decreed an Order of the Bath for his former principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, who oversaw a garden party during lockdown restrictions in 2020.
He also gave a peerage to his chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield, and a CBE to Jack Doyle, his former director of communications. Both of them were in office during some of the Partygate era within No 10 and the investigations into the scandal.
Shelley Williams-Walker, who reportedly was the DJ in charge of the playlist at a Downing Street gathering on the eve of prince Philip’s funeral, was made a dame, while Rosie Bate-Williams, a former press adviser, who issued some of the denials about rule-breaking, was made a CBE
As well as the lies, the threat in Johnson’s leaving statement is in the clause that says he is leaving parliament “for now”. He and his close acolytes dream of a cataclysm where everything is so blasted away that Johnson is welcomed back as a saviour. The first step along that road is to destroy Rishi Sunak.
As he went, Johnson lashed out at Sunak saying Tory rule was “clearly at risk” under his leadership and the government needed to be “properly Conservative”. Johnson also denounced Sunak for having “passively abandoned” seeking a Britain-US trade deal, as well as having “junked” measures to scrap all EU laws, help people into housing and promote animal welfare.
Johnson’s departure will trigger a by-election which the Tories won’t look forward to. And earlier in the day Johnson’s close ally Nadine Dorries announced she was leaving as an MP “with immediate effect”. That move also means a by-election.
Boris Johnson posed as an anti-establishment “man of the people”. In fact, he always has served the rich and, above all, himself. He has used racism, nationalism and enthusiastic support for imperialist wars in an effort to save his own skin.
When Johnson stepped down as prime minister, Socialist Worker wrote, “Boris Johnson has resigned—now let’s get the rest. His departure as Tory leader should be a spur for everyone who wants to drive out the Tories to mobilise opposition on the picket lines and streets.”
As Sunak faces yet another Tory crisis it is time to draw a line. It’s a moment for workers and campaigners to fight—and to keep fighting until we win. Why should this Conservative rabble have a moment’s peace?
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