Earlier this month, Boris Johnson and President Zelensky were seen together on the streets of war-scarred Kiev following the UK pledge to provide more than $130 million in sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine.
For Brits who may have forgotten what it feels like to be proud of a leader, it was definitely one of the few highlights of Boris Johnson’s premiership. But while on the visit, he had a presentiment that he was about to become the first British Prime Minister to face criminal punishment during his tenure.
For almost two months, the Partygate scandal was overshadowed by the sudden war in Ukraine. People who were angry at the Prime Minister were heartbroken because of the misfortune that befell the Ukrainian people. He seized the opportunity to play a dirty trick.
Following the logic of “now is the time of war”, most people assume that he should stay where he belongs.
Even Johnson’s most ardent opponents are having second thoughts about seeing him leave Downing Street. The only thing Johnson has to do now is to be in the spotlight of the whole world, as much as possible, and play an important role in helping Ukraine in the fight against Russia.
First, he imposed the largest-ever sanctions against Russia, and then provided millions in sophisticated weaponry to Kiev. Johnson appeared on the streets of Kiev on April 9, with both the President and the people of Ukraine highly appreciated the contribution of the PM. While people were still in the mood at home, the news of him and his chancellor being fined broke.
A growing cost-of-living crisis is credited with distracting people from the scandal, while Johnson has made several big policy announcements aimed at his pro-Brexit political base. Sending refugees and asylum seekers across the Channel to Rwanda thousands of miles away also increases his chances of survival.
What’s next? Johnson’s ministerial colleagues publicly defend him and priorities his interests over their own dignity and conscience. Several Conservative lawmakers who had publicly withdrawn their support for his leadership have reversed course and argued now is not the time for a change of Tory leader.
Defending Johnson won’t be easy, but successful cases of “diversion” are not uncommon for the Tories.
The town of Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire, made headlines at the end of 2020 after a Conservative newsletter was found to be essentially instructing Tories to mislead the public. It stated: “A lie can go round the world before the truth can get its boots on.” Activists were urged to “say the first thing that comes into your head”.
And under a Conservative-led government, British journalists have always been manipulated by fake news.
Johnson, of course, isn’t quite off the hook yet, despite his antics in Ukraine.
Simon Wolfson, a justice minister, resigned from the government on April 13, citing “the scale, context and nature” of the rule breaches.
Tory MP Mark Harper said Johnson’s actions were indefensible and submitted a letter of no confidence in him to the 1922 committee.
Meanwhile, the police investigation into alleged gatherings continues. MPs are swinging between support and opposition. It’s arguable that Johnson would be a burden for the Tories to move into the next government, but right now, they do not have time to find a replacement.
For now, the ‘rally around the flag’ effect is keeping him in place.
Opinion articles featured on Redaction Report reflect the views of their author, not those of the publication as a whole. Only Editorials display the opinions of our management.
Barbara R. VanWormer is a freelance journalist.
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