Partygate: How Boris Johnson became Donald Trump in disguise with lies, slurs and fake news claims – Tom Richmond

IT takes a certain chutzpah for a shameless political leader to be flattered by favourable comparisons to the character of Donald Trump, the now ex-US president.

US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, September 24, 2019.
US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, September 24, 2019.

Boris Johnson is one such politician and he, and Trump, have far more in common than their outlandish hairstyles. Now the Tory party, just like the Republicans, risks being held hostage by Trumpian-like forces.

Johnson – just like the 45th President of the United States – has besmirched his office and his willingness to pursue an unlawful prorogation of Parliament in 2019 over Brexit was early evidence of Trump tendencies in Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, after taking an early morning jog yesterday.

Then an inability to accept the truth, whether it be the result of the 2020 presidential election in Trump’s case or, on this side of the Atlantic, the outcome of Sue Gray’s update into the Downing Street ‘partygate’ scandal and myriad alcohol-fuelled gatherings that were banned by law at the time.

Next the advocacy of ‘fake news’ to debase politics, a Trump trait, and gullibility of those Tories who believe the boorish Johnson is a saint who walks on water as Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries condemns the Gray report as “pure fiction”.

Then the bogus insults, another Trump trick, as Johnson took a slanderous swipe at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer over the non-prosecution of paedophile Jimmy Savile before referring a question about alleged drug-taking in No 10 to the Opposition front bench. There’s no place for such baseless smears and slurs – never mind in Parliament.

Boris Johnson addresses Parliament on the Sue Gray report into 'partygate'.

And, finally, the future. Even out of office, Trump’s grip on the Republican party is merciless and it will be the same here – Johnson’s influence on his acolytes will continue long after his premiership comes to a tawdry end.

As long as there are subservient and now complicit Ministers and MPs content for a liar as leader, the Trumpian takeover of the Tories will intensify.

Now there are families fatigued by the protracted ‘partygate’ process, as the Metropolitian Police investigate 12 gatherings, and their view deserves to be respected – especially as a cost of living crisis becomes collateral damage.

Yet one reason for this is that the Tories have given succour to the current void and vacuum by refusing to be honest about the rulemakers who became rulebreakers in the lockdown. And it is this deceit and deception which explains why Johnson is now shown up, with each passing day, by his maligned predecessor Theresa May when it was her flaws that enabled him to become Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May clashed in Parliament over the 'partygate' report.

She certainly lacked the necessary statecraft to reconcile Brexit – and few would have done so with the hand that she was dealt at the time – but her statesmanship was rarely doubted.

If she did mislead Parliament, it was inadvertent, not intentional, and she represented Britain, both at home and abroad, with sincerity and seriousness – two traits now sadly absent.

Yet her successor, who, himself, is still in survival mode, possesses neither the statesmanship, nor the statecraft, to respond to the parties that took place while mere mortals suffered heartbreak and heartache by adhering to the rules and curtailment of liberties.

A cavalier Johnson won’t even confirm – or deny – if he was present at a party in his own Downing Street flat which is one of 12 gatherings now subject to a Metropolitan Police probe that the PM views, bizarrely, as his best defence.

And this was plain when May asked the PM witheringly: “Either my right hon. Friend had not read the rules, or did not understand what they meant – and others around him – or they did not think the rules applied to No. 10. Which was it?”

Even more perturbing was Johnson’s terse reply when the din finally subsided: “It is not what the Gray report says, but I suggest that my right hon. Friend waits to see the conclusion of the inquiry.”

Yet the Gray update was clear – “too little thought”, it said categorically, was given to “the appropriateness of some of these gatherings, the risks they presented to public health and how they might appear to the public”.

And while the scale of alcohol use in a culture where staff were discouraged from reporting lockdown breaches is perturbing enough, so, too, is Johnson’s desire to create a new Office of Prime Minister – and implement personnel changes before the police inquiry is complete – and Parliament’s inability to uphold standards in public life.

It all explains why social media is now circulating a historic interview of a politician setting out a “brilliant new strategy” which involves “so many gaffes that nobody knows which one to concentrate on”, and so they cease to be newsworthy. That person is Boris Johnson – Britain’s Donald Trump – and this country should be very fearful for the future if our democracy’s longstanding checks and balances now fail partygate’s key tests of integrity and decency.

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