A government of such low repute would be alarming at any time – but Brexit makes it all the more damaging.

After becoming Prime Minister in July 2016, Theresa May aspired to be a transformative leader comparable to Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher. Even before recent events, that possibility had been extinguished. The loss of the Conservatives’ hard-won parliamentary majority destabilised the government, drained Mrs May of confidence, and shattered her authority.

Today, an enfeebled Prime Minister presides over the most discredited British cabinet in recent history. On 1 November, Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary after admitting inappropriate behaviour towards women. He could not, however, resist adding pompously that he had “fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces” (as if he could have survived in another cabinet post).

As the New Statesman went to press, Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, appeared likely to join Mr Fallon on the backbenches. After claiming that she had informed the Foreign Office of a summer trip to Israel (during which she held formal meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior politicians), Ms Patel was humiliatingly forced to admit that “this was not the case”. Mrs May did not learn of the meetings until more than two months after the event. For good measure, the International Development Secretary suggested that part of the UK’s foreign aid budget could be diverted to the Israeli army. Such flagrant breaches of ministerial protocol have made her position untenable.

Ms Patel’s hubris and ineptitude is rivalled by that of Boris Johnson. In his long profile of the Foreign Secretary in last week’s New Statesman, the Times’s former foreign editor Martin Fletcher accurately described him as a “chaotic, mendacious, philandering, egotistical, disloyal and thoroughly untrustworthy charlatan”. True to form, Mr Johnson has again embarrassed himself and his country. His statement that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an imprisoned British-Iranian woman, was “teaching journalism” in Iran, rather than on holiday, has potentially condemned her to five more years of incarceration. For this grievous error, as well as his shameless disregard of collective responsibility, Mr Johnson deserves to be expelled from office.

To compound Mrs May’s embarrassment, her closest cabinet ally and de facto deputy, Damian Green, is under investigation for alleged sexual harassment and the possession in his office of “extreme pornography”, which he denies. The situation would be comic were it not so serious for the stability …read more

Source:: New Statesman

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Leader: The Tory ship is sinking

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