We shouldn’t be surprised. These are other times Boris Johnson has shown he doesn’t give a s**t about democracy

Boris Johnson
Emily Apple

The Queen has granted permission for Boris Johnson to ‘prorogue’ parliament. Johnson claims that the suspension is purely in order to start a new session of parliament. But critics, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, believe it’s an attempt to force through a no-deal Brexit. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has also described it as a “coup”.

While people are rightly up in arms and calling for a general strike, Johnson’s stance shouldn’t surprise us. After all, there have been several other times when the PM has shown he doesn’t really care about democracy.

That bloody bus

Firstly, there’s that bus. Yes, the one that claimed the UK pays the EU £350m a week and that money could be spent on the NHS instead. The figure was rubbished at the time as it didn’t include the rebate the UK receives from the EU. It also didn’t take into account the amount of money Brexit will cost, to both the government and the wider economy.

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In 2017, the head of the UK Statistics Authority David Norgrove slated Johnson’s repeated assertion about the £350m, claiming it was a “clear misuse of statistics”. And as fact-checking website Full Fact reported:

This is wrong.

But Johnson has never retracted or apologised for misleading the UK public for this statement.

Lie, lie again, and if in doubt keep lying

Another key point in Vote Leave’s referendum propaganda that Johnson touted was the lie that Turkey was about to join the EU.

Johnson was confronted on this lie by Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick. Johnson denied making the assertion even though there’s clear evidence of him saying exactly that. During the confrontation with Crick, Johnson lied three times in one speech.

But this lie isn’t the only time Johnson has shown that he doesn’t care about democracy in relation to Turkey. Because there is currently a coup taking place in the country. Three democratically elected mayors in majority Kurdish areas have been removed from office by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They are being replaced by kayyums (‘trustees’) from Erdoğan’s AKP party. Protests are ongoing. Journalists have been arrested. But unlike Jeremy Corbyn who spoke out over the coup, Johnson has kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the government lists Turkey as one of its “priority markets” for arms sales. The Turkish army is NATO’s second largest. And the British government has also officially invited Turkey to attend Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) – one of the world’s largest arms fairs – which is taking place in London in September.

HDP MP and deputy chair for foreign affairs Hişyar Özsoy summed up the ruling Conservative Party’s attitude towards arming Turkey in June 2018:

Theresa May and those stupid Conservatives… after Brexit they just want to improve their bilateral relations with Turkey at a time when Turkey is having so many problems with European Union so they think it’s an opportunity to sell Turkey weapons.

He also claimed that the Conservatives:

don’t care whether Turkey is a democratic country or not. It’s totally business as usual.

And while we’re at it, let’s ignore the courts too

On 20 June 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government granting export licences for arms sales to Saudi Arabia is “irrational and therefore unlawful”. But instead of respecting this ruling, the government is inviting Saudi Arabia to DSEI.

The UN has long described the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as the “worst in the world”. Its report in February highlighted that:

14.3 million people are classified as being in acute need, with around 3.2 million requiring treatment for acute malnutrition; that includes two million children under-five, and more than one million pregnant and lactating women.

As Andrew Smith from Campaign Against Arms Trade previously told The Canary:

DSEI is one of the biggest arms fairs in the world. It exists for one reason only, and that is to sell as many weapons as possible. It will see UK civil servants and military personnel introducing some of the world’s most repressive regimes to many of the world’s biggest arms companies.

But Johnson’s government obviously doesn’t care about the Court of Appeal ruling, let alone people in Yemen. It just wants business as usual with the Saudi dictatorship.
We shouldn’t be surprised, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act

These are just a few examples of times when Johnson has shown he doesn’t care about democracy both at home and abroad. And in this context, it’s no surprise that he also doesn’t care about suspending parliament and subverting democracy.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be angry, and it certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take action. See you on the streets!

Featured image via Flickr/Chatham House

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    1. A matter of days ago thousands of us were in Manchester commemorating those killed and injured by the yeomanry when they demonstrated for democracy on St Peter’s Fields. Two hundred years later and Kipper Johnson, the Bullingdon restaurant-destroyer, shuts down parliament to get his own way. When our elected representatives are denied their voice it is a moral imperative for us to rebel. This is a provocation to civil disobedience. A General Strike is the least we need. The courts may rule that Johnson’s action is unlawful. If so, we have replaced democracy (demos krasis – rule by the people) for jurocracy. Heartening though it would be for the courts to side with the people, that we have a PM willing to manipulate constitutional niceties for plainly political ends is an affront to the common folk and it is the common folk who must give the response. Kipper behaves as if he’s still a student at Oxford and this is all a jolly jape, old boy. Smash up the place. Daddy will pay the bill. The people will pay. The people are paying because they accept the rules: we elect our MPs and they speak on our behalf in holding the executive to account. Now we have an executive which says for that for five weeks during the greatest crisis we have faced since 1939 our MPs will be gagged. The people of Hong Kong are in revolt against exactly this kind of executive arrogance, as are the gilets jaunes. Don’t forget that Kipper bought water canon. He will use maximum force against us. What power do we have? The power of our votes is being suspended. That’s what this unprecedented prorogation means. So we are forced to us extra-parliamentary power to see our parliamentary rights restored. What power do we have? We make the economy work. We get up in the morning and do the jobs which keep everything running. We must shut the country down while protecting the vulnerable until Kipper is forced to retreat. We must be good citizens and bad subjects. We will help one another but we will spavin the government. The government, not parliament. We believe in parliament. It is Kipper and his mad adviser Rasputin Cummings who show contempt for it. We have to show Johnson that he is not playing the Eton wall game now, he is not pushing aside a ten-year-old child as he charges with a rugby ball under his arm. We must push him aside. He has taken the first step towards dictatorship. We must take his legs from under him and leave him flat on his face. The power is ours. We must use it responsibly, for democracy, equality, justice.

    2. Democracy doesn’t exist, if it did they would abolish it. We live in a oligarchy, it could not be anymore blindingly obvious. Take a look at the City of London’s skyline since 2008, since “the crash of the banking system. Can you see any empty office buildings? Can you see any signs of mass unemployment? No. The only signs are those of a massive boom, skyscrapers flying up like Japanese Knot Weed, while the poor have gotten a whole lot poorer and the sick are throwing themselves off bridges and in front of trains like never before.
      I am now ASHAMED of my country.
      Another classic is from the leaked “yellowhammer document” All of the paragraphs give a brief explanation of the probable issue followed by another paragraph of mitigation and the Government solutions. Except that is, the heading “THE POOR”
      That gets one line, and I quote,

      “Low-income groups will be disproportionately affected by rises in the price of food and fuel.”

      I close my case.

    3. On another matter but of Tory Govt Minister + Prime Ministers mess we voter should be asking Boris about Petition to cancel Boris Johnson plan to suspend Parliament tops 670,000 /

      Petition to cancel Boris Johnson plan to suspend Parliament tops 670,000
      /////
      WELL Boris with you giving the Govt another holiday time spell
      I have a question to ask you unelected by public vote Boris.
      Q-Who is paying the wages + expenses of the Govt member plus D.U.P. party now you Boris intend on stopping them from doing their JOBs Boris in H.O.C.+ Parliament?
      Is it us taxpayer or Tory party paying for their wages YES OR NO? As I do think we taxpayer should NOT pay their wages plus expenses if they are not doing their job in Govt as a result of you Boris suspending Parliament, I think Tory Party should pay their wages + expenses bill out of Tory party funds not us taxpayer. After all Boris You are stopping them from working not us voter or taxpayer just you SIR and your rich party funders that voted you in as P.M.

    4. Parliament has shown it ‘doesn’t give a s**t about democracy’ likewise. We know this after three long interminable years waiting for Brexit to be properly and wholly enacted according to the democratic result of the 2016 EU Referendum – since which parliamentarians across the political divide have faffed about trying to skew ways and means to make it look like Brexit has been delivered when factually we may never leave ‘the club’. And, they’re still ‘at it’ with their red-faced bumptious protestations. They’ve been rumbled for the shysters they all are. A proroguing pox upon all their houses.

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