The truth is now out. Mr Johnson, mayor of London, did have an affair with Jennifer Arcuri when the latter’s company was enjoying government grants of thousands of pounds. Furthermore, ‘his office’ smoothed the way for her to accompany him on (government funded?) trade missions for which she was improperly qualified.
I would have thought that for someone in public office with his eye on the top job, even to associate with a person whose previous business partner had been sentenced to fourteen years for fraud was an unwise action.
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, was prime minister for nine years in the mid-nineteenth century. He was a notorious womaniser, nicknamed ‘Lord Cupid’, and fathered a number of children with various women. Palmerston was a ‘lively, amusing talker’; ‘men and women found it difficult to resist [his] charm’.
Alexander (etc.) Johnson, apparently known to his friends as ‘Al’—but to the world at large as ‘Boris’—has a number of traits in common with Palmerston. He too is charming and amusing, he too is a womaniser and has fathered children with several women—whether or no the popular legend is true that he is not sure how many (women or children ...) And he too is prime minister. But notwithstanding his indiscretions, shouldn’t his private life be his own?
Here’s the problem. Mr Johnson already has a very full record of being ‘economical with the truth’—see earlier posts on this blog: ‘The Johnson Papers’. When very difficult decisions have to be made, how are we to trust the blatantly untrustworthy to make those decisions?
In this country we govern and police by consent. Manchester’s mayor is refusing to obey the law; different Tory MPs are at each other’s throats, and millions of people are desperately worried about their ability to pay the bills with the various levels of lockdown being imposed. What are the chances of many of them obeying the law decreed by Johnson's government when their very livelihoods are at stake? And then there is the awfulness of no deal ‘B*****’ which we are told to expect. Ten weeks to go before Biblical chaos is quite likely to break out at the channel ports.
I can see no way out of this. A government of national unity might help, but who would lead? And the chances of the Tories relinquishing power are zero. Possibly Johnson could resign on health grounds and call a General Election. Somehow I can’t see that leading to a smooth transition.
Palmerston was leading a country on its way to becoming the most powerful in the world. Johnson is presiding over the same country in terminal decline—due in no small measure to his own selfish actions.
Note: this post was written before I had seen the review in Saturday's Times of the latest Johnson biography by Tom Bower—which makes interesting reading ...
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs