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Disgraced former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who unlawfully suspended Parliament, restricted the right to protest, and lied to MPs, has been appointed to the advisory board of the International Democracy Union, the global centre-right group for “freedom and democracy”.
The International Democracy Union (IDU) is an international alliance of centre-right political parties based in Munich, Germany. It is chaired by Stephen Harper, the former Prime Minister of Canada.
The group announced on Tuesday: “The IDU is excited to announce that PM Boris Johnson has joined our Honorary Advisory Board. His extensive experience as a statesman will be of tremendous help as we work towards building an ever-stronger alliance of the centre-right! Welcome to the IDU, Prime Minister!”
The decision has been met with baffled outrage on social media. In June, a report found that democracy in the UK was in retreat, following Boris Johnson’s cavalier approach to standards in public life and efforts to warp the constitution under his tenure.
Commissioned by democratic pressure groups, Unlock Democracy and Compass, the report found that issues like the partygate scandal – where politicians making the rules repeatedly broke them over Covid – and the lobbying scandal surrounding Owen Paterson which saw Johnson try and fail to get him out of hot water by overriding Commons procedure – undermined the strength of democracy in the UK.
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Johnson’s government also introduced mandatory photo voter ID, which has made it much more difficult for millions of people to vote. At the same time, his Elections Act undermined the principle that the body responsible for overseeing elections, in this case the Electoral Commission, should be independent of government. The government can now set the body’s strategy and has a majority of seats on the parliamentary body overseeing it.
Meanwhile, clampdowns on the right to protest and strike, and conscious attempts to delegitimise and weaken the power of independent regulators and the judiciary, compounded existing failings within UK democracy, the report found.
The IDU post is the latest gong for the man who shut down Parliament in order to prevent it voting against his Brexit plans, and who resigned when faced with a potential Commons vote over repeatedly lying to MPs. Johnson’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act has also seen hundreds of peaceful protesters locked up since passing last April.
Responding to the announcement that the former Prime Minister has joined the IDU’s Honorary Advisory Board, Tom Brufatto, Director of Policy at Best for Britain, said: “There is a staggering irony in Boris Johnson – the man who unlawfully prorogued parliament, eroded voters’ democratic rights with the Election’s Bill, and was found to have deliberately misled Parliament and the country during the pandemic – providing advice on the promotion of democracy.
“He should have no further influence on our or anyone else’s politics.”
Byline Times readers responded to the news of Johnson’s new post with disbelief. “Their entrance requirements must be really low to think he’s an asset to the group,” one said.
Another said: “Any potential credibility they have just flown out of the window. [I] can’t believe any organisation thinks having Johnson on board is an asset.”
“Johnson is one of the greatest scam artists the UK has ever seen,” one argued. “If they are pleased he has joined them it says a lot about their integrity or rather lack of it,” another said, while one branded it simply: “Farcical.”
Another pointed to Johnson’s decision in 2019 to withdraw the whip from 21 Conservative MPs who dared to challenge him over his no-deal Brexit push: “At the next election, many were replaced by people of the ‘calibre’ of Lee Anderson, Scott Benton and others.”
One reader noted wryly: “I expect they want his skills and expertise in how to dismantle and damage democracy.” Others mocked the IDU’s use of the phrase ‘Prime Minister’ to describe Johnson, in the way that former US presidents keep their ‘President’ title. “He appears to have fooled the IDU into thinking he is Prime Minister,” one said.
Several replied simply with clown emojis.
Former Conservative leader William Hague is a former chairman of the IDU. In June last year, Hague was among those calling for Johnson to quit as PM, saying his win among MPs was the “worst possible result” for the party.
The damage done to his premiership was “severe” and showed a “greater level of rejection than any Tory leader has ever endured and survived”, Hague said, slamming Johnson’s failure to tackle the drinking culture in No 10 during the lockdowns.
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