Opinion: Boris Johnson survived. But Britain deserves better

Boris Johnson survived. But Britain deserves better. | Soho House

After scraping through the no-confidence vote to remain as Prime Minister, we now have to deal with living in a state of toxic political limbo

Tuesday 7 June 2022    By Laura Craik

If there is one thing we have learnt from the pandemic, it’s to look after ourselves, mind and body. Life is fragile and fleeting. Self-preservation is important. Anything that compromises or erodes it should be avoided.  
Unless it can’t be. Hard as it can be to rid ourselves of the sticky toxicities of friends and family, it turns out that what’s harder still is to rid ourselves of our current Prime Minister. This gas lighter extraordinaire shouldn’t affect us as he does: he’s not in our homes, goading us with petty domestic micro-aggressions like a hateful spouse, and yet he feels as though he is, because he’s inescapable.  
Whatever your political leanings, or even if you have none, there’s no getting away from Boris. He sucks up airtime like a Dementor. Here he is again, clinging on for dear life after a dramatic day at Westminster that saw Tory MPs vote by 211 to 148 to insist they had confidence in Mr Johnson continuing to rule. No matter that, with 59% of the party vote, he recorded a weaker victory than Theresa May when she faced the same challenge in 2019: Johnson hailed it as a ‘convincing’ result, urging the party to ‘move on’ and focus on ‘the things that really matter to people’. Such as this morning’s unctuous photo op of him walking his beleaguered dog, Dilyn. Even his dog is annoying. Even his dog’s name is annoying. Spell it like Bob did, FFS. 

Boris Johnson survived. But Britain deserves better. | Soho House

What Mr Johnson fails to grasp – or, more likely, does grasp, but doesn’t care – is that people can’t and won’t ‘move on’, because ‘the things that really matter’ to them are truth and justice. Alas, no justice can ever be served for the thousands who died alone, gave birth alone, or sat lonely and distraught as their loved ones slipped away while Johnson and his cronies quaffed Tignanello and listened to ABBA. We will never forget. We can’t. Like Johnson’s hypocrisy, the anger is in our bones.  
And so, we find ourselves in a horrible, toxic limbo, our anger trapped inside us with nowhere to go, its only possible outlet – a new leader – denied us. A new government wouldn’t right past wrongs, but it would cease the perpetuation of current ones. It would remove at least some of the clowns from our line of vision, the useless, lying henchmen and women whose shameless self-interest makes a mockery of us all.  

Boris Johnson survived. But Britain deserves better. | Soho House

Like everyone in his cabinet, Johnson has frequently been described as believing himself to be ‘free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else’, and has repeatedly proven this to be true. Britain deserves better. We deserve better than a man who calls the children of single mothers ‘ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate’, even though nobody knows how many illegitimate children he has himself. We deserve better than a man whose manipulations of the truth have left a trail of devastation from which the country will take decades to recover economically, and a lifetime to recover from emotionally.  

But emotions have no place in politics, so in the parlance of a Tory politician: let us be clear. Britain doesn’t just ‘deserve’ better – it needs better. It needs a keener intellect than Mr Johnson’s to lead us out of the economic devastation wreaked by Brexit and the pandemic. Someone who can do maths might be good, aided by a cabinet with a vague grasp of economics.  

In short, we need a person with a plan. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to elect a man so clearly bereft of one, but the joke isn’t funny anymore. It never was. When you break the law, you shouldn’t get to make the law. Nor should you cling on to your leadership. This vote may not be the end for Johnson, but it is the beginning of the end.  

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