DAN WOOTTON: Westminster’s crooked kangaroo court tried its hardest, but failed to produce any smoking gun against Boris Johnson. This deranged witch hunt must now fail for the sake of British democracy
It wasn’t just Boris Johnson on trial today.
British democracy was too – and I’m sad to say it’s been undermined in the most mortifying and embarrassing fashion, with damning political ramifications that will reverberate for years to come.
I’ve been calling out the deranged witch hunt against the last Prime Minister elected by the British people for a number of months.
But the judge, jury and executioners on the Privileges Committee in Westminster’s Grimond Room – led by Labour’s Boris hater-in-chief Harriet Harman, who decided on a guilty verdict months ago before seeing a scrap of evidence – proved even more of a kangaroo court than I feared was possible.
Without any legal norms or protections, Boris was subjected to over three hours of state sanctioned harassment over the most tedious technicalities of so-called ‘gatherings’ at Downing Street over the course of the pandemic, most of which he didn’t attend or turned up for a matter of minutes to give a thank you speech to a departing member of staff.
Boris was subjected to over three hours of state sanctioned harassment over the most tedious technicalities of so-called ‘gatherings’ at Downing Street
Boris – the electorally popular Brexit champion and the great threat to a future Labour government – found himself in the dock, facing the end of his political career
As Boris stressed in his powerful and well-prepared opening statement: ‘I’m here to say to you hand on heart that I did not lie to the House. Those statements were made in good faith and on the basis of what I believed at the time.’
Even two decades on, Tony Blair has never found himself facing this sort of parliamentary scrutiny, despite lying about the motivation behind a war that saw 179 brave Brits killed in action.
Nor has Matt Hancock, the true villain of the Covid-19 era whose arrogant decision to admit positive patients into care homes, ignoring official advice, led directly to thousands of deaths.
Instead, it’s Boris – the electorally popular Brexit champion and the great threat to a future Labour government – who found himself in the dock, facing the end of his political career, over ludicrous two metre social distancing rules, nonsense guidance and a wine and cheese night in the garden of Downing Street.
Now let me be clear, these rules should never have been inflicted on the British public.
I spent virtually all of the lockdowns attacking the government and Boris himself for putting us through such anti-social horrors.
It was always inexcusable and unforgivable to ban family members from being by their loved ones’ sides as they took their last breath on earth, limit close friends from attending funerals and forcibly stop concerned relatives from helping youngsters being abused by their parents.
But conflating the indignity of Britain’s insane lockdown laws, many of which Boris privately fought against, with this laughable show trial is intellectually dishonest and morally wrong.
Matt Hancock (pictured), is the true villain of the Covid-19 era whose arrogant decision led directly to thousands of deaths
The judge, jury and executioners on the Privileges Committee led by Labour’s Boris hater-in-chief Harriet Harman proved even more of a kangaroo court than I feared was possible
As expected, the political establishment, Boris loathing mainstream broadcast media, wet Tories who love the new antidemocratic regime of Sunak and Hunt, and the Sue Gray bent blob lapped up the circus today.
Acting as ringmasters, Sly News’ Covid party girls Kay Burley and Beth Rigby disposed of any pretence of impartiality as they expressed delight at witnessing the potential slaughter of their political enemy.
‘I’m so looking forward to this,’ Burley exclaimed as she kicked off her coverage this morning, licking her lips with glee.
Fellow presenter Sarah-Jane Mee gushed to Rigby that ‘this is box office today that we’re building up to’, as she skipped into the studio.
There wasn’t a hint of irony, even though both Burley and Rigby were suspended during the pandemic for breaking Covid rules that they consistently demanded Boris strengthen.
They were a part of a long list of sworn enemies of Boris given a platform to attack the ex-PM, including conspiracy theorist Alastair Campbell, who is now publicly questioning if the ex-PM nearly died of Covid himself in March 2020.
The deep state stitch up against Boris is even more sinister than that.
Sue Gray, the so-called unbiased civil servant chosen to conduct the inquiry into the Downing Street parties, is about to become the chief of staff to the leader of the Labour party – and Slippery Starmer will not say when they began their negotiations.
Sly News’ Covid party girls Kay Burley (pictured) and Beth Rigby disposed of any pretence of impartiality as they expressed delight at witnessing the potential slaughter of their political enemy
As the former home secretary Priti Patel, a loyal Boris ally, told me last week that suggests ‘collusion’ at the highest possible level.
That’s before you get to the role of arch Boris nemesis Dominic Cummings, a discredited enemy who has made it his mission on earth to destroy his former boss.
But in this Committee’s attempt to write the political epitaph of Boris Johnson, what they don’t realise is that they are also potentially threatening the ability of future Prime Ministers to speak freely in the House of Commons on matters of national urgency.
By trying to prove that Boris ‘recklessly’ misled the house, even though he believed the advice he was given was correct, there is a dangerous moving of the goalposts in terms of what our leaders will be prepared to say in parliament.
That could have a chilling effect.
Why in the future would Rishi Sunak agree to rely on officials to answer urgent questions on matters of national importance, when the Privileges Committee could use any unwitting mistakes to finish off his political career? Instead, we will see our leaders avoid tackling issues of the day head on and spending weeks or months hiding behind official inquiries.
Yesterday, I spent hours poring over the 52-pages of evidence submitted by Boris to the committee.
It was abundantly clear to me that he neither knowingly or recklessly misled parliament and corrected the record when it was proven that what he had said in the House was wrong.
Trying to prove that Boris ‘recklessly’ misled the house, even though he believed the advice he was given was correct, there is a dangerous moving of the goalposts
But sitting through the painful three-hours and 15 minutes of evidence in front of the Committee today made it clear the MPs were looking for a different conclusion.
There was no smoking gun, just a lot of noise around hated lockdown measures designed to tap into the public’s anger about what we were all needlessly put through.
Certainly nothing to prove Boris went to parliament to mislead the public knowingly or recklessly.
So if the Committee delivers a guilty verdict, it will be imperative that Conservative MPs, even those who support Sunak over Boris, put their intra party rivalry aside to vote down the result.
If Boris is forced from office via a recall election, I fear the US-style hounding of politicians by the Westminster establishment will become commonplace.
For the good of British democracy, that must not be allowed to happen.
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