Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Lock ’em all up and throw away the key


I’M rather amused that a high-profile politician like Boris Johnson is being prosecuted for the serious criminal offence of misconduct in public office, the specific offence alleged being that the ‘£350million a week’ painted on the side of the Leave campaign’s bus was not the amount paid by Britain to the EU. (Incidentally £350million per week = £18billion per year; readers will remember that after her election Mrs May’s magic money tree found £20billion for the NHS.)

My first reaction to this case was ‘Oh sweet, a Remainer millennial is upset because a politician lied to him – that’s what politicians do.’ But then I had a think, and the idea has some attractions:

Eighty per cent of the current membership of the House of Commons stood on a manifesto pledge to leave the EU, but we haven’t because they won’t vote to do so. Lock them up;

Project Fear rumbles on with random dire economic forecasts binge promulgated by Spreadsheet Phil. Surely a cell awaits;

And we can go back in time, so step forward Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell. Your ‘dodgy dossier’ was a lie that plunged this country (and arguably the world) into a disastrous war in Iraq. Misconduct in public office seems a bit light for this pair.

It’s really quite a delicious prospect – particularly if one could find a reason to throw the Speaker into the deepest corner of Wormwood Scrubs. And of course there may be some civil servants too – take a bow, Olly Robbins and your crew of numbskulls.

Back on Planet Earth, what is interesting is that this puts the political class under attack from both sides. Leave has set up the Brexit Party, which in six weeks has swept to victory in the EU elections and is now turning its eye on Westminster. It already has more than 1,300 prospective parliamentary candidates; it has a vision for the future of this country which is attracting substantial support. Meanwhile the Remoaners, acting through an individual surrounded by a coterie of lawyers, are still whining about the outcome of the 2016 Referendum.

I get the sense that the Establishment is now terrified of what a Brexit Party triumph in the next general election would entail; might it include an investigation into how in the name of all that is holy the civil service allowed the government to order it NOT to prepare for either Brexit or no deal until late in the day? Or how the negotiations were so utterly incompetent? Or the BBC so pathetically, obviously biased?

In their panicked state the doyens of Westminster are, I think, likely to try to force an early general election, as their only hope is that the Brexit Party won’t be ready. The bellwether will be the Peterborough by-election next Thursday. If the Brexit does as well there as it did in the EU elections (and Peterborough voted Leave by more than 60 per cent), the game is up for Tories and Labour.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here.

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