Foreign Affairs

Keeping Johnson In Power Will Only Benefit Putin In His War Against Democracy

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This day was always going to come.

Although the horrific events in Ukraine rightly became the focus after the invasion began in February, it didn’t extinguish the troubles at home. It merely delayed them.

After receiving a fine from the Metropolitan Police over parties in Downing Street, Boris Johnson has been dealt his most fatal blow yet. These allegations have dogged Number 10 since their emergence in December, but now the law has spoken: Boris Johnson is the first sitting prime minister in history to have broken the law.

He may have paid his fine, but lawmakers cannot be lawbreakers.

Before the Ukraine crisis began, you might remember a wave of Tories demanding that Johnson resign as their leader. Giants such as David Davis, a Conservative veteran, shouted “In the name of God, go!”, words used by anti-appeaser Leo Amery in 1940 to the weakened Neville Chamberlain. This bruising experience depicted Johnson as a Prime Minister losing the confidence of his own side.

Now, however, even after such dramatic developments, the Tory protestors have backed away cowardly.

Before, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross demanded that Johnson should go, stating that if he attended parties during lockdown, “I have to say his position is untenable”. But now we have the facts, Ross has reversed his position. Roger Gale, another critical Conservative voice who called on the prime minister to go in December, has also backed down. 

It’s astonishing that even members of the cabinet such as Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries have presented themselves openly to defend the prime minister. It demonstrates how rotten this administration is.

But why are Conservatives refusing to do the decent thing and throw out their duff leader?

Their reasoning is the crisis in Ukraine. Removing Johnson will, Gale believes, destabilise the coalition against Putin. It’s challenging to completely critique Johnson’s handling of the war. Johnson’s meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, a city torn apart by conflict, was unifying. It proved that, although no longer members of the European Union, Britain had a role to play. Zelensky is a new symbol of democracy and Johnson’s affiliation with him was strong leadership on his part.

However, the fact still stands. Johnson has lied countless times in Parliament, denying any such parties in Downing Street happened. Despite these shocking facts which insult thousands of the bereaved families, Tories MPs suggest that keeping the liar as prime minister is crucial. That is simply an insult to democracy and plays right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.

Democracy is what the war in Ukraine is all about. By invading Ukraine, Putin is attacking the West’s values and democratic traditions to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and the EU. Ideally, he craves for the return of an Eastern Bloc (with himself obviously in total control) that stands against NATO. One of Putin’s dictatorial strengths is attempting to manipulate democracy and, in his eyes, prove it to be a sham.  

Acting exactly like open secrets, it’s common knowledge that Russia interfered with the 2016 United States Presidential election and attempted so again four years later to ensure the election of Donald Trump, the latter of which failed. This meddling is proof that Putin aims to use democracy not for change or progressivism, but for its own self-destruction.

Not only that, but the Salisbury poisonings in 2018 and his attacks on Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny exemplify that Putin has the power to do what he wants and with little condemnation. Democratic countries are in peril because of his actions. But why is this relevant to Partygate?

Putin’s plan to discredit democracy comes with the rise of populistic liars. His actions played a role during the Trump presidency, an era of American history that cannot be viewed as a strong one democratically. Now that Boris Johnson has broken the law and attempts to continue his role, this is another gift to Putin. It’s just more evidence of how corrupt the government has become and Putin will use the event in his conquest of democracy.

Therefore, for the sake of democracy’s survival, not just in Britain but the globe, Johnson must go. Tories must not use Ukraine as a mechanism to simply prevent Johnson from leaving. War has never been a factor that delays the removal of a Prime Minister for a prolonged time.

It took less than a year after the beginning of the Second World War for Chamberlain to be removed and replaced by Winston Churchill.

At the height of the bloody First World War, Herbert Asquith was deposed by his Liberal Party.

In more recent history, both Thatcher and Blair were removed from office by their own parties during conflicts in the Gulf. 

This mantra that Johnson should remain in office due to Ukraine is frankly pathetic. He may have some qualities as a war leader, but it’s just as important to be a competent and truthful domestic prime minister too.

Johnson’s love of lies and lawbreaking has proved him to be a disgrace to democracy. Unless a backbencher like Jeremy Hunt emerges, the next leader of the Conservative Party will find it tricky to dislodge themselves from the tangled web of Johnson’s mess.

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