Outgoing PM to make more money as he weighs chances of a return to Downing Street
Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street as a failed politician. His sustained ambition to be UK Prime Minister ends three years after replacing Theresa May and as a result of a rebellion by MPs and ministers. The mandate is short and the end, soulless. His dismissal has been a vindication of his role and an effort to pave the way for his return.
Johnson has spent the last few days denouncing the myopia of previous governments in not seeing the importance of developing nuclear energy; to commend the industry that makes possible the commissioning of a nuclear-powered submarine; or presiding over the recruitment of more police specialized in intervening in particularly dangerous areas.
He also visited kyiv, where Volodymyr Zelensky decorated him with the Order of Freedom, the highest award that the Ukrainian state awards to foreigners. His supporters and himself highlight the culmination of Brexit, vaccination in the pandemic and his pioneering and constant support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion as achievements of his mandate. The latter is, among the three, the one that arouses the greatest consensus, as a positive achievement and as Johnson’s personal merit.
Last Friday, his office published the opinion of two lawyers whom the Government consulted on the investigation by a parliamentary committee of the conduct of Boris Johnson in the extraordinary saga of the parties and meetings that were organized in Downing Street, failing in many cases the rules of confinement.
The House of Commons Privileges Committee will question witnesses, in public and behind closed doors, to understand whether Johnson lied to Parliament. If the committee concludes that he misled MPs, a motion could be put before the full House declaring that the elected for Uxbridge and Ruislip South (west London) has flouted Parliament.
There is no set punishment for such a fault. The regulations, based on the assumption that all deputies and ministers are ‘gentlemen’, assume that the moral condemnation of their colleagues would lead to the resignation of the guilty party. Johnson has hired, at the taxpayer’s expense, good lawyers who argue that the committee must show that the respondent had “intent to lie.”
This imbroglio of lies will keep Johnson’s trail alive in the first weeks of Liz Truss’s term. The loser’s eagerness to burnish his reputation in his penultimate act strengthens speculation that, like his admired Winston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli, he wants to return to Downing Street to be the country’s leader again.
The British media assure that, for the moment, he will dedicate himself to earning money on the circuit of conferences and speeches, writing books and perhaps columns in the ‘Daily Telegraph’. With those same tasks and when he was less famous, he was already earning more money than as prime minister.