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Boris Johnson the liar and his cronies
Tory members who propelled Johnson into Number 10 can have had no doubts they were choosing a serial liar for their leader. After all, he was sacked in 2004 by their former party leader, Michael Howard, when his denial that he was having an affair was proven false. Years earlier he was sacked by another boss - Times editor Charles Wilson - for fabricating a quote.
Johnson’s boss at the Telegraph, Max Hastings, writing during the Tory leadership, was scathing about his former employee, saying: “There is room for debate about whether he is a scoundrel or mere rogue, but not much about his moral bankruptcy, rooted in a contempt for truth... his graver vice is cowardice, reflected in a willingness to tell any audience, whatever he thinks most likely to please, heedless of the inevitability of its contradiction an hour later.”
It is to the shame of the fewer than 100,000 Tory members who ignored this evidence when they propelled Boris Johnson into Downing Street, and to the credit of the 60,000 other members who refused to do so.
Johnson’s own lies have come thick and fast - whether it’s the 40 new hospitals that quickly evaporated into 6 refurbs, the 50,000 extra nurses that included 19,000 already in post, or the 20,000 extra police officers promised, when the reality is that this recruitment will take place over three years and not even replace those cut since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. Then there’s his claim that there will be no checks on trade between Northern Ireland when that is precisely what his Withdrawal Agreement mandates. He also backed the infamous claim on the side of the bus that the UK was sending £350m a week to the EU, followed by “let’s fund our NHS instead”.
What is deplorable now is to see minister after minister come forward to utter Johnsonesque lies before being exposed by the fact checkers.
One of the more outrageous lies was Chancellor Sajid Javid’s claim that homelessness reached its peak under Labour and had been failing under the Tories. Actually, a fact check reveals homelessness in England reached its peak under Labour in 2003-04 and then fell to a low in 2009-10. Since the Conservatives came to power it has increased by 40%.
Now we have the distressing sight of Culture Secretary Nick Morgan lying about the Intelligence Committee report into Russian interference. She claimed the delay in publishing it was down to normal procedures. The committee chair Dominic Grieve is emphatic the Prime Minister has prevented publication during the election. This isn’t surprising when a number of wealthy businesspeople with links to Vladimir Putin have donated generously to the Tory party.
I say this more in sorrow rather than anger. I have high regard for Nicky Morgan. But she has let herself down badly dancing to the tune of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.
My prediction: if Johnson does get his overall majority then his biggest lie of all – that his withdrawal agreement will “get Brexit done” - will blow up in his face. He will become engulfed in years of haggling, further uncertainty and disillusion among voters who took him at his word.
By Don Brind - Former BBC political correspondent