Politics Explained

Why 1990s Tory sleaze pales next to the scandals of Boris Johnson’s government

Many of the scandals that rocked John Major were trivial in comparison – and his personal integrity was not the key question, writes Rob Merrick

Saturday 01 May 2021 21:30
<p>John Major’s ‘back to basics’ campaign backfired</p>

John Major’s ‘back to basics’ campaign backfired

Brown envelopes containing “cash for questions”, secret arms deals with Saudi princes and adulterous MPs staging cringeworthy TV apologies with stonefaced wives.

Yes, “Tory sleaze” as it was dubbed – as much a 1990s landmark as the Britpop wars, England’s footballing failures and first fumbles with something called “the world wide web”.

Now the phrase is back with a vengeance, on everyone’s lips as Boris Johnson’s government is rocked by an astonishing series of scandals and inquiries. So how serious are the current controversies compared with those that disgraced John Major’s administration and cast the Conservatives out of office for 13 long years?

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