Wafting away claims of corruption is the hallmark of the populist leader

Editorial: Boris Johnson’s 2019 holiday to Mustique and the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat are not merely ‘Westminster bubble’ issues – transparency is essential

Monday 10 May 2021 21:30
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In the build-up to last week’s elections, whenever senior Conservatives appeared in broadcast interviews, they defended allegations of possible corruption against the prime minister, with regard to the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat, with the claim that the public do not care. That it was merely a “Westminster bubble” issue, far detached from the people’s priorities. They are now using their success in some of those elections as vindication for such a claim.

It marks an especially low point in public discourse. The claims of corruption, into which a large number of independent investigations and inquiries are now under way, can be wafted away and generally undermined on the basis that the voting public aren’t bothered by them. But this is a long established hallmark of the authoritarian or the populist leader.

The latest investigation into Boris Johnson’s conduct has now been launched by the standards commissioner, who has grounds to be unconvinced by Boris Johnson’s 2019 holiday to Mustique. Eventually, the £15,000 cost of this holiday was declared in the House of Commons register of members interests, and the generosity in question as having come from Tory donor and Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross.

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