Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2847

Boris Johnson did worse than lie

Misleading MPs is the very least of the former prime minister's crimes
Issue 2847
Boris Johnson and prime minister Rishi Sunak clash.

Boris Johnson and prime minister Rishi Sunak clash. (Picture: HM Treasury and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP)

Boris Johnson’s appearance before the MPs privileges committee this week should stoke anger over all his crimes. The hearing is very narrow—it’s not about whether he partied while people died. We all know that, and Johnson was fined for it. It’s not about whether he misled MPs. He certainly did.

The MPs’ task is to work out whether he knowingly lied to parliament. They have already said in an interim report that it “would have been obvious” to him that parties breached Covid guidance, even if he told MPs they weren’t.

When the full version eventually appears next month, such a verdict would be welcome because it would clear the way for voters to chuck out Johnson as an MP. But he would still avoid a real reckoning. Johnson is responsible for tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

His refusal to override the interests of profit meant the lockdown at the start of the pandemic was too slow. His hunger to chuck away restrictions meant more people died. His decisions meant huge suffering and long-term harm.

Losing his job would be no recompense. He should be facing jail. And the concentration on Johnson risks allowing others off the hook. He led but wasn’t alone in trampling on ordinary people. Others found guilty even by the compliant cops include current prime minister Rishi Sunak. We need to clear them all out.

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