Those who count these things tell us that Donald Trump has told more than 22,000 lies since being made President of the US. Despite that fact, a huge number of people still think he should be re-elected. They even agree with him on his self-assessment: he’s the greatest president the US has ever had.
But if we look closer tohome, we’ll find that falsehood and lying have been and continue to be part of Boris Johnson’s government planning.
You might say it all started with a bus – remember that £300 million a week for the NHS? – but even that’s not the starting point. Michael Howard, the Conservative leader at the time, saked Johnson for allegedly lying about an extra-marital affair. And he was sacked again by the Times newspaper because, it was said, he made up a quotation and attributed it to historian Colin Lucas. And during his time as a Telegraph columnist, he repeatedly made up lies about EU regulations.
But those were more in the way of personal lies. Now Johnson is arranging for more institutional lying.
There are two striking examples.
The first is the Overseas Operation (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill. This Bill will fly in the teeth of the Geneva Conventions and the International Criminal Court. That’s because the Bill would effectively give the green light to torture and war crimes by British forces. After five years, any allegations of torture or war crimes would evaporate, cease to exist. In short, Britain is saying its armed forces abroad can do what they want in the way of torture and war crimes. It’s called supporting our boys.
Even nearer home is the lie addressed to the Irish Protocol. As it stands, all goods entering the north of Ireland will have to comply with EU law, which means there’ll need to be paperwork and check of goods moving from Britain to here. That ensures that there won’t be any customs or checks on goods between the north and south of Ireland. All checking will be done at the border between the north of Ireland and Britain.
The UK’s Internal Market Bill, however will allow Britain to ignore its commitments to the Irish Protocol. The plan is to have no checks on goods going from here to Britain. The Tory government has put a gloss on all this by saying it would need to have a fresh vote in Parliament before it became operational.
Michael Howard, now Lord Howard, who was a keen Brexiteer, summed it up neatly: “The government is still asking Parliament to break international law.”
Johnson appears to be modelling himself on Donald Trump, who has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement on climate change. But you get the feeling the only model Johnson needs is there when he looks in the mirror.
In the long term, you pay if you get a reputation as a liar. It certainly will make trade deals a bit harder for the Tories as the UK sails off to a EU-free world.
In ordinary life, if you break a legal agreement, you are made to pay for your duplicity. In Johnson’s world, anything goes.