Advising Boris Johnson about ethics – that’s a tough gig

Lord Geidt (Picture: BBC)

DID you know that Boris Johnson has an ethics adviser? That must be the toughest gig since King Herod advertised for someone to offer childcare advice.

It’s a sort of morals prefect and the second one has just jumped ship. Lord Geidt’s job was to advise on the ministerial code, a set of rules governing standards of behaviour. In his parting letter, he said the job had put him in an “impossible and odious position”.

“I can have no part in this,” Geidt wrote. He appears to have been referring to an unspecified request for advice about Johnson “deliberately breaching his own code” and Geidt said it would be “an affront” to suspend the code “to suit a political end”.

But as we know, Boris Johnson never does anything unless it suits his own political ends (his political end is something else altogether).

As far as I can tell, the prime minister’s job seems to be twofold.

One: go about the country looking a proper tit in a high-vis jacket, while watching other people work. This is intended to impress for reasons impossible to explain (“Yes, I’ll vote for Boris Johnson because he is always so busy going around the country looking like a proper tit in a high-vis jacket…”).

Two: to seek ways to stir up cultural divisions and dividing lines, causing chaos and a distracting racket.

Two stories illustrate this second job.

First up is that shameful and immoral scheme to pick desperate migrants up from the shores of Kent and send them straight to Rwanda. A policy cruelly inept enough to have united in condemnation Prince Charles and all the bishops in the Church of England.

Political rumour has it that the government would like to expel the bishops from the House of Lords in revenge.

According to a story by Harry Lambert in the New Statesman, a source close to government thinking revealed: “They never expected the flight to take off. The point of the exercise was to create dividing lines ahead of the next election, which is going to be fought, in part, on a manifesto pledge to leave the European court of human rights and repeal the Human Rights Act.”

A BBC report calculated that chartering the Boeing 767 cost an estimated £500,000. Half a million taxpayers’ pounds blown on a political stunt exploiting extremely vulnerable people.

But then, Johnson doesn’t care about migrants or anyone else, unless they are useful in saving his own sweaty skin.

It was heartening to see that Rwanda flight cancelled, although other flights will be along soon enough. And the last-minute intervention of the European Court of Human Rights probably pleased Johnson no end. It certainly allowed the usual Brexit-addled suspects to attack Europe yet again, even though the court has no direct link to the EU – and Britain was instrumental in setting it up to protect human rights.

And here is the other zombie story: Brexit revisited as Johnson tries to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol bill, while rewriting history too by pretending poor, defenceless Britain was tricked into signing the agreement. You know, the one he boasted about as his oven-ready magic recipe for getting Brexit done (still not cooked yet).

So, whenever the next election comes, it’s likely to be fought on Brexit: The Return, and demonising traumatised migrants. Lovely.

Two final thoughts. Why don’t we set up a processing centre in France, as the French have suggested, rather than trying to ship people to Rwanda? Answer: it’s a sensible, humane solution that wouldn’t garner the right sort of outraged headlines.

Thought two: while it’s not good to see certain Labour supporters constantly laying into Sir Keir Starmer, it is depressing that Starmer has not spoken out against the Rwanda deal. Whatever you think of Tony Blair, his lawyerly wit could sting and provoke; Starmer’s merely seems to conjure an air of being mildly put-out.

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