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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

The nine lives of Boris Johnson

SOME SAY that politicians, like cats, have nine lives. If that’s true Boris Johnson must be near his limit as he resists calls to quit after becoming first sitting prime minister to be punished for breaking law.

This week Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were given fixed penalty notices after the police found they breached Covid laws by attending a 56th birthday party for the prime minister in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street on 19th June 2020, when indoor social gatherings were strictly banned.

In the great scale of things breaking the Covid lockdown rules pales into insignificance when compared with Tony Blair’s lies about “weapons of mass destruction” he used to justify British support for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Lying in the House of Commons is still, however, a serious breach of bourgeois parliamentary norms and being caught out usually leads to resignation.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tells us the fines show that Johnson and Sunak had lied repeatedly about the Partygate scandal, dishonouring both their offices and the sacrifices of the British people. “They have to go” Starmer says – but he shouldn’t hold his breath waiting.

Johnson is certainly on his way out but he’s still not dead meat.

One Tory MP has called on the Prime Minister to step down. Nigel Mills, who represents Amber Valley in Derbyshire, says Johnson’s position is now untenable.

“I think people are rightly angry that at a time when they were observing the very strictest of the rules people who were making the rules didn’t have the decency to observe them…that’s the nub of it,” Mills said.

The maverick Tory back-bencher told BBC Radio Derby: “In all conscience I don’t think a prime minister can survive or should survive breaking the rules he put in place and he was on the TV every few nights reminding us all that we should observe…we have to have higher standards than that of people at the top. He has been fined, I don’t think his position is tenable, in my view.”

But in the Johnson camp the Prime Minister’s supporters argue that with a major war in eastern Europe now is not the time to replace a leader – even one as fatally flawed as Boris Johnson. But this is a really shallow argument. Stomping around Western Europe to do the bidding of the White House is an easy act for most of his ministers, with the possible exception of Liz Truss, to follow. Nor will it be too much effort to face-off the electoral challenge from the totally useless Labour leader who barely registers on the campaign trail.

Johnson’s real ace is that Rishi Sunak is in the same Partygate boat as him. One can’t go without the other. Sunak’s got enough on his plate trying to ride out the storm over his wife’s dubious tax status and he knows that any move to oust Johnson now can only scupper his own chance, perhaps his only chance, to become leader of the Conservative & Unionist Party.