Should he stay or should he go?

What’s gone, and what’s past help, Should be past grief.

The trouble with there being so very many things to get angry about is often that you don’t know where to begin and so your anger gets dissipated. I’m rather afraid of this happening right now.

I wrote quite a lot a few months ago about ‘partygate’, and the fact that there were people in Whitehall who seemed to think they were above the law. Who seemed to believe that they could make the laws the rest of us would be punished for not sticking to, but that they didn’t actually need to adhere to themselves. It was bad enough when we thought to people were the Prime Minister’s press secretary, a few SPADs and civil servants. Now, it appears, that the people who think they are better than the rest of us include the Prime Minister, his wife and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So far, the only person to have resigned over this is Allegra Stratton, who didn’t even go to any of the parties, something which seems rather unfair.

While I’m on this particular soapbox, it strikes me that this is in a similar vein to the Sunaks’ tax affairs. Is it just me, or does it feel really quite off, that the man who presides over tax and national insurance rises for everyone, on the grounds that we need to pay back his largess during the pandemic, has gone to a not inconsiderable amount of effort to minimise his own tax burden? As has Akshata Murty, the lady to whom he is married. They may well be acting within the law be within the law, utilising perfectly legal loopholes, but it doesn’t sit right. Not quite cricket wouldn’t you say?

Should the Prime Minister resign? Yes. He’s been found by the police to have broken the law, else why would he have been given the fixed penalty notices for attending parties at a time when indoor gatherings were prohibited by the Covid laws, overly Draconian though they may have been. He obfuscated and bumbled his way through the accusations when they were levied at him in Parliament, has now been found out and should go.

Should the Prime Minister resign? No. There really, sadly, doesn’t seem to be a credible alternative in the Tory Party. We may be out of the European Union, but we are still, to all intents and purposes in a Europe that is seeing its first major armed conflict, nation versus nation,  since 1945 (the Balkan conflict was different. Terrible, tragic for thousands upon thousands, but slightly different).  Now, more than ever, the Western nations need to be seen to be standing together, strong. A leadership contest now would consume Government and Tory Party energy and time that must be spent helping to fight for the survival of Ukraine.

It’s been verified today that the Russian army used cluster bombs to destroy a railway station which they knew very well that women and children were being evacuated from. The reports coming out of the Ukrainian areas that the Russians have left are horrifying, all the more so because we know full well that they are mustering all the they can to flatten the eastern part of the country. President Biden called it genocide. He’s right. It happened in the Balkans. It’s happening in Ukraine. Putin is desperate to have pummelled Ukraine into submission by May 9th, so that he can have his Victory Day parade. We cannot, must not, let that happen. Any weakness on the part of any of the Western governments will play into Putin’s hands.

I don’t believe Johnson will be the man to lead the Tory Party into the next general election, but now is the wrong time for him to go. It may seem unfair that the war in Ukraine is what saves Johnson’s skin for now, but war is unfair. It’s bloody, it’s brutal, it’s horrible. And we need to help Ukraine win it. If we don’t, our problems are going to be way bigger than who ate the biggest slice of the cake.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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