'Brazen excuses': UK PM Boris Johnson accused of creating mistrust

Former British Prime Minister John Major in 2019
Former British Prime Minister John Major in 2019 Copyright CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / POOL / AFP
By Euronews
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Making a speech in London, former UK PM Sir John Major spoke critically of Boris Johnson and his government.


Former UK prime minister Sir John Major launched a scathing attack on incumbent Boris Johnson and his cabinet on Thursday, accusing him of finding "brazen excuses" for the Partygate scandal.

“At No. 10, the prime minister and officials broke lockdown laws,” Major said.

"Day after day the public was asked to believe the unbelievable. Ministers were sent out to defend the indefensible -- making themselves look gullible or foolish," he told the gathered reporters.

“Collectively, this has made the government look distinctly shifty, which has consequences that go far beyond political unpopularity."

“No government can function properly if its every word is treated with suspicion,” he emphasised.

The country's prime minister from 1990 to 1997, Major also lamented the state of democracy, expressing his concern that democracies the world over are increasingly in jeopardy, including the UK.

Watch the speech by Sir John Major

"Trust in politics is at a low ebb, eroded by foolish behaviour, leaving a sense of unease about how our politics is being conducted. Too often, ministers have been evasive, and the truth has been optional."

The scandal caused a significant public uproar, forcing Johnson to apologise to MPs, saying, "I get it, and I will fix it", and promising to reform his office.

While the Tory Party leader has ignored continued calls to resign, Boris Johnson has had another difficult week in government which included a tense foreign affairs meeting in Moscow between Minister Liz Truss and Russia’s Sergey Lavrov.

This frosty visit coupled with more 'partygate' revelations has landed the leading Conservatives in more hot water. However, Peter Cardwell, former special advisor to Boris Johnson and Theresa May spoke to Euronews on Friday to discuss the latest developments in UK politics, advising that the Prime Minister could be safe until after recess.

"I also think that the growing problems in Ukraine and the fact that Boris Johnson has been talking to US, French and German allies this evening, I think that is going to take precedence on the many problems the Prime Minister has been having over partygate, over the resignation or the sacking essentially of the Metropolitan police chief, London's police chief, Britain’s’ top police office. But I think there are other bigger issues that MPs' will be focusing on" says Cardwell.

Johnson has denied personal wrongdoing and said he has “absolutely no intention” of resigning.

Major said if Johnson is found to have lied to parliament, he should quit, although he wasn't clear on if that should also be the case if he broke the lockdown measures.

“The lockdown laws are still being investigated. We still need to see whether the prime minister has given an accurate version of what happened to the parliament or not,” he said. “I am not here to pronounce the failure of any individual here this morning.”

After further questions to clarify whether he believes Johnson should resign, Major explained his position to the members of the press.

"If the prime minister is shown to have been lying to the parliament — and by lied I mean deliberately lied, not made a mistake in what he said… it has always been the case that the prime ministers resign.”

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