Philip Rutnam’s resignation highlights Boris Johnson’s assault on the establishment

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Saturday 29 February 2020 14:29 GMT
Priti Patel wrongly claims there are 8m 'economically inactive' Brits who can replace immigrants

The resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary at the Home Office, illustrates graphically the nature of the assault by Boris Johnson and his supporters on the established institutions of the UK. Not only civil servants but also the courts and the BBC are clearly in the sights of the populist nationalists who are now running the country.

Johnson’s “conservatism” (if so it can be called) is light years away from the gentlemanly approach of David Cameron or even Margaret Thatcher.

Sometimes major change is needed in the way government operates. (One thinks of Churchill’s wartime coalition or Attlee’s reforming government in the post-war years.) However, the direction of change clearly envisaged by Johnson and Cummings arises from an unhealthy determination to make changes pretty much for change’s sake. Gradual change, when clearly needed, on the basis of trusted, well-established national institutions has been the British way and should definitely remain so.

Rev Andrew McLuskey​

An omission

Tony Evans cites various examples of sport’s moral failure. What surprises me is that he omits the captaincy of the England rugby union team by a man called Dylan Hartley, guilty of eye-gouging as the peak of an impressive list of disciplinary outrages.

Rehabilitation may have included allowing him to play rugby again, and even being promoted to his national team. But making him captain was an insult to decent players everywhere and a terrible example to younger people.

Cole Davis

Past leaders had their pros

I must confess that I did feel rather smug whilst reading the fine article from Denis MacShane on Boris Johnson’s Suez-style bluster over Brexit.

Since the halcyon days of the Theresa May administration, I have often been saying to anyone who will listen: wasn’t it great when Anthony Eden was running the country? Similarly, I also post on social media such illusions of wisdom – for comparison my American equivalent is Richard Nixon, by the way – whenever it feels relevant.

Upon reflection, I realise that my words were initially at least partly in jest, but now I am of the opinion that for the people of this country it is becoming tragically prescient!

Robert Boston

The economics of coronavirus

The fall in stock market prices is not an indicator of economic damage from Covid-19. If the worse case is everyone catches it and 3 per cent die, then 210 million people will die. However, they will be mostly old and economically inactive so it will not reduce the productive capacity of corporations. Their wealth will be inherited and funds for their pensions will be available – there is likely to be an increase in expenditure on the sort of things corporations provide. The downside will be the one of disruption from panic.

Stock market values are based entirely on the sentiment of buyers and sellers. Everyone wants to anticipate that sentiment though in practice almost everyone follows it. This has led to unrealistic values so Covid-19 is just a catalyst for a reappraisal.

Jon Hawksley​

Where is Johnson hiding?

Given the prime minister’s avoidance of all public appearances, could the paper stop putting the same stock photos of him above every article? Can I suggest a tub of lard instead?

Name and address supplied

Heathrow plan bulldozed

Now that the Court of Appeal has ruled against the Heathrow expansion, I imagine Boris Johnson must be somewhat disappointed to know that he won’t have the opportunity to lie in front of any bulldozers after all. Of course, now that he’s the prime minister of a parliament packed with his MPs – all of whom have free access to eight subsidised bars – at least he can take some consolation in being able to lie in front of dull boozers on a regular basis.

Julian Self
Milton Keynes

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