Boris Johnson's failings over Partygate and Ukraine should lead to his resignation – Angus Robertson MSP

Never has a Prime Minister been so close to being yanked out of office to then hang onto power by the tips of his fingers.

Boris Johnson's many failings mean he is unfit to be Prime Minister (Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson's many failings mean he is unfit to be Prime Minister (Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

A series of events has, for now, overshadowed the ‘Partygate’ scandal and allowed Boris Johnson to stay on.

The first, of course, is the abysmal failure of the Met Police to execute a timely investigation into the parties held at Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic.

This bought Johnson some time, but his team needed to make plans to rebuild his credibility to survive the eventual outcome. Such efforts were given the infantile name “Operation Save Big Dog”.

Then, Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine diverted focus. Rightly, the efforts of all who could do something were directed toward the crisis.

I do not doubt even Johnson’s sincerity in wishing to stop the conflict or help the people affected. I am totally sure, however, of his willingness to exploit any circumstances for his own political gain.

Weeks of conflict offered cover for Johnson, with allies dismissing Partygate as irrelevant in the circumstances. Then, a new government scandal reared its head.

The revelations about the tax and residential status of Rishi Sunak and his family raise hugely concerning questions about how those who set the taxes of everyone else appear to create circumstances in which they and those around them can avoid taxes. Once more, an event with a new focus provided an opportunity for Johnson to pitch himself as the right Prime Minister for now.

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While the Sunak story isn’t good news for the wider government’s popularity, it is near-on impossible to believe the revelations about the Chancellor and his family’s tax and residential circumstances came from anywhere but the Prime Minister’s inner circle.

Indeed, in startlingly helpful timing as the story unfolded, Johnson seized the moment and exited stage left to visit Kyiv and President Zelensky, leaving Sunak to fend for himself.

To be clear, it is right for world leaders to visit and show solidarity with Ukraine. Johnson followed the likes of EU President Ursula von der Leyen and the Polish, Slovenian and Czech prime ministers.

Nonetheless, it was an ideal time for Johnson to make this trip as now Sunak, who, for a while, seemed the likely successor when Johnson succumbed to Partygate, is now out the picture and Boris receives a small bump in Tory support for his visit.

We should neither forget Partygate nor stop looking at Johnson’s real record on handling Ukraine. The UK was far too slow in passing laws to crack down on oligarchs’ money in the UK. It has taken a war waged by Putin for Johnson to publicly admit the presence of corrupt Russian money in the UK, which he and his party have been happy to have swilling around, as it often conveniently spilled over into Conservative party coffers.

Furthermore, despite predicting the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine in November, the UK Government did not move to pass laws to sanction Putin’s allies until February.

The UK Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme is woefully inadequate, with 1,200 Ukrainians having arrived in the UK. Over 500 are in Scotland following the Scottish Government’s commitment to take as many Ukrainians as needed.

Do not lose sight of Johnson’s failings. They are innumerable and necessitate his resignation.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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