UK Politics

The extent of law-breaking in the British government

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Since coming to power Boris Johnson and his cabinet have routinely and gleefully threatened to break international law, have ignored parliamentary procedure and Johnson even became the first sitting prime minister to be found guilty of a crime whilst in office. This article provides a brief overview of just some of these unlawful and criminal acts undertaken by the highest political offices in this country.

Proroguing parliament

The unlawful nature of Johnson’s premiership started early in his tenure. On the 28 August 2019, parliament was prorogued for five weeks after Johnson lied to the Queen. This act, later to be found unlawful by the Supreme Court, was an attempt by the prime minister and Jacob Rees Mogg to circumvent parliament to push through the Government’s Brexit plan without scrutiny from our elected representatives.

The prorogation of parliament was an assault on our sovereign parliament, an attack on democracy itself.

PartyGate

When the rest of us were confined to our homes, unable to see friends or family, lost our jobs, and unable to say goodbye to elderly family members for the last time, Johnson and co had a great time drinking and partying. The prime minister and his friends even illegally partied the night before the Queen sat alone during her husband’s funeral.  

Sue Grey’s report, which was surprisingly not a complete whitewash, went into detail about the debauchery that occurred at these events which Downing Street officials included consuming so much alcohol that they vomited on the walls and floor of Downing Street… literally staining our democracy.

The scale of the parties in 10 Downing Street is immense with the prime minister’s residence receiving more COVID fines than any other address in the UK, with over 100 fixed penalty notices. As a result of police investigations and subsequent fines, Johnson is the only prime minister in British history to have been found guilty of a crime whilst in office.

Fraudulent contracts

On the topic of COVID, we have the billions of pounds of your money that were wasted on unlawful PPE contracts, the failed Test and Trace system (£35 billion) which broke privacy laws, and various other companies owned by friends of officials and party donors.

Contracts that was found to have been illegal by the High Court included those awarded to PestFix (£340m) and the hedge fund Ayanda Capital (£252m) via the “VIP lane”. In total £3.5b of taxpayer’s money was handed out to such companies which had close personnel connections to the prime minister.

Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, summarised the High Courts ruling as: “not only did the Conservatives give their mates privileged access to lucrative Covid contracts, they did it unlawfully.”

Northern Ireland Protocol

I have written about the NIP before on Backbench so will keep this brief. In summary, the UK and EU need a border somewhere because the UK decided to leave the single market. A border can’t go across Ireland because of the Good Friday Agreement so had to go between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This keeps NI within the Single Market, so some checks have to be carried out between NI and the rest of the UK.

Johnson and David Davis paraded around this “oven-ready deal” they negotiated and signed to the electorate as the “final Brexit deal” which contributed to his 2019 landslide win.

Ever since they signed the NIP, the government has threatened to unilaterally change the deal on several occasions promoting the EU to, and rightfully so, consider legal action. What makes it worst is that the Government knows they are acting unlawfully with the Northern Irish Secretary admitting back in September 2020 that this would break international law in a “specific and limited way”.

The NIP is back in the news again as Liz Truss now wants to dissolve the protocol, the same one she voted for, in its entirety. A hard border in Ireland breaks the Good Friday Agreement and could lead to a resurgence in violence and a return to the Troubles undermining UK national security.

Rwanda

Not only is the Rwanda plan morally wrong and expensive, but also breaks international conventions on refugee law. The ECHR (which has nothing to do with the EU) stepped in and grounded the flights. However, this ruling also benefits the Tories.

The government and the parts of the right-wing press are using this as a way to stoke up hatred for human rights laws to convince the public to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, something Domonic Raab has wanted for years.

In his latest announcement Mr “I-don’t-believe-in-economic-or-social-rights” vowed to change the law so that the government can start ignoring human rights laws and even potentially withdrawing from an international legal framework specially designed – mostly by British lawmakers – to prevent fascism.

The only other countries to withdraw from the ECHR was Greece after a military dictatorship briefly took over the country and Russia after it invaded Ukraine – what a prestigious club to want to be a part of.  

Final thoughts

This article doesn’t look at all the unlawful acts committed by Johnson and his cabinet.  But the sheer scale of the lying, fraud and blatant disregard for parliament or the judiciary is on a scale never seen before in the UK. It’s no wonder Johnson has gotten through so many ethics advisors.

One of the major problems we are facing is that those in government seem to genuinely hold the belief that they have the right to do whatever they like because of their position. Johnson has always been like this, even when he was a child, he did not believe the rules applied to him.

Law breakers cannot be law makers.

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