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The law must step in to fill the gap left by a wounded parliament

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In The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey has a line for all Remainers laughing at the sight of Boris Johnson striding to power and then tripping over his shoelaces and falling flat on his face. He tells of a “gang of Hungarians that wanted their own mob. They realised that to be in power, you didn’t need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn’t.” If they broke even gangsters’ lax conventions – not just kill a rival but his wife and kids – they would dominate.

Johnson is showing a ruthlessness no one has seen in British politics. “When are you fucking MPs going to realise we are leaving on 31 October? We are going to purge you,” the Mail reported Dominic Cummings screaming at Greg Clark. Cummings and Johnson duly purged not just the former business secretary but two former chancellors of the exchequer, Winston Churchill’s grandson and 18 other “fucking MPs” who refused to do as they were told.

You don’t give men like this the benefit of the doubt or pretend that nothing has changed. Harold Macmillan’s “Night of the Long Knives” in 1962 destroyed his reputation for calm confidence. But there’s no comparison. Macmillan merely sacked seven colleagues from his cabinet. He did not destroy them as Johnson and Cummings have done: strip them of the Conservative whip and end their careers by making it impossible for them to return to parliament.

We are in a new world and as opposition parties confronted with political gangsters from Trump’s America to Orbán’s Hungary have learned, you must believe them capable of anything and act accordingly. The........

© The Guardian