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Boris Johnson Spends Last Days in Office Laying Minefield for His Successor

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12.07.2022

A day after Boris Johnson resigned as British prime minister but announced that he would remain as “caretaker prime minister” while the Conservative Party chose its new leader, the disgraced leader was hit with another scandal. Several media outlets reported that one of the reasons he wanted to stay in office for a few months was so that he could continue to have access to Chequers, the PM’s country residence, where he and his wife, who had gotten married during the COVID-19 lockdowns, were planning a belated wedding bash.

Others gleefully reported that any incoming resident to Number 10 Downing Street would, as a first order of business, have to replace the extraordinarily gaudy, and pricey, gold wallpaper and other baubles that the prime minister and his wife had ordered installed — using money donated by lobbyists — in their official residence.

Johnson’s tenure was defined by lawlessness and cronyism, dolled up by his carefully cultivated shambolic charisma and his ability to turn a phrase to his advantage. He was, as the Observer and Guardian columnist Andrew Rawnsley put it this weekend, a master of “verbal flatulence” void of any underlying philosophical principles. On Brexit, he talked a big talk of “getting the job done” and implemented changes that led to startlingly high inflation and low growth, to a damagingly weak currency, and to almost daily diplomatic spats with the EU. On “leveling up” the economy, he preached about the need to economically boost depressed areas of the country — yet, by the end of his tenure, inequality (including the geographic divisions that Johnson decried) was up and reliance on food charities was becoming a defining feature of the economic landscape.

The GINI coefficient, a number used to measure inequality in individual countries, rose slightly for the first two years of Johnson’s premiership; when it fell marginally last year, that was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the initial hit to top earners’ wealth in 2020, rather than to broader long-term policy changes. Months into his premiership, Johnson was forced to admit that the U.K. was more geographically unequal, in terms of income, than any other major industrial democracy.

On COVID, he talked of the need for everyone to pitch in and sacrifice, yet it turns out that he and his colleagues were cavalierly breaking their own lockdown rules pretty much whenever the opportunity presented........

© Truthout


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