“At home we tend to take democracy for granted, we should not”.
Former Conservative prime minister, Sir John Major, who served from 1990-1997 has criticised incumbent prime minister, Boris Johnson, for having “shredded” the United Kingdom’s reputation over Partygate.
Boris Johnson responded, whilst at a NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, by suggesting that it was “demonstrably untrue”.
In a major speech, the former prime minister attacked the incumbent for party gate, and said that it was usual to resign if a prime minister breaks the law; it is increasingly expected that Boris Johnson will receive a fixed penalty notice for his attendance at Downing Street parties in contravention of his own rules.
“Our system relies also on respect for the laws made in Parliament… and on self-restraint by the powerful. If any of that delicate balance goes astray, as it has, at it is, our democracy is undermined.”
Major is the second former Conservative prime minister to criticise Johnson, after Theresa May made an impassioned intervention in the House of Commons suggesting that a prime minister should resign if they mislead the house.
Major also indicated Johnson should resign if he deliberately misled Parliament, saying that convention “must always” be followed.
Major spoke at the Institute for Government think tank, a research institute which aims to improve government effectiveness.
In the speech, which was entitled “In democracy we trust?”, Major had two key attack points; that Johnson was eroding democracy at home, and that this was threatening the UK’s status on the world stage.
“Trust is being lost and our reputation overseas has fallen because of our conduct. We are weakening our influence in the world.”
“We should be wary. Even a casual glance at overseas comment shows our reputation is being shredded. A nation that loses friends and allies becomes a weaker nation.”
Major gave the remarks whilst Johnson was meeting with fellow NATO leaders regarding the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
“There has been cynicism about politics from the dawn of time. We are told that politicians are “all the same”, and this untruth conditions electors to condone lies as though they were the accepted currency of public life.”
“But politicians are not “all the same”. And lies are just not acceptable.”
“To imply otherwise is to cheapen public life, and slander the vast majority of elected politicians who do not knowingly mislead.”
“But some do – and their behaviour is corrosive. This tarnishes both politics and the reputation of Parliament. It is a dangerous trend.”
“If lies become commonplace, truth ceases to exist. What and who, then, can we believe? The risk is …. nothing and no-one. And where are we then?”