In the wake of Rishi Sunak’s attempts to cover up the COVID inquiry, I spoke with Marina Purkiss about ‘Johnson’s revenge’ on Rishi Sunak. Marina asked whether Boris Johnson is playing a blinder with his recent offer to release notebooks and WhatsApp messages to the COVID inquiry? And just how much of a threat do people think Johnson is to Sunak? Listen to my dialogue with Marina here:
If I were charged with murdering 30 000 people and asked to go to court, would it be agreeable if I were to dictate what evidence was submitted to that court?
I am divided. A tiny bit of me wants to expose Johnson. I said jokingly that at least we would know how many kids he had! Yet the issues we face as a country are far more important than taking revenge on any one person or any reproductive trivia. At least 30 000 vulnerable people died unnecessarily at the hands of Johnson, Hancock et al. The truth must be heard and justice done. This is not a Philip Schofield styled media fest, it is a serious matter. So here’s how I see Johnson’s intervention and timing:
Johnson’s revenge imperative
Johnson is a single celled organism – with one simple metric for his decisions – what is good for Boris Johnson. This will be guiding his decision to release the information to the inquiry. I sense that he thinks that he will gain first mover advantage over Sunak by acting now. Remember that strategy according to Johnson is what appears on the front pages of the Daily Mail etc. the day after he opens his mouth.
Johnson is also a reliable liar. The devil is always in the detail and, at present, Johnson has only offered to release WhatsApp messages from his current phone, from mid 2021. Many of the important decisions on herd immunity, putting infected patients into care homes etc. were made in 2020. Another piece of fudge has since been introduced … that his old phone must not be restarted, as it may release information to hackers … there are plenty of solutions to this problem such as Faraday cages. Experts judge the risks to be extremely low anyway. As always with Johnson, I smell a rat.
Johnson the disruptor
I seriously doubt Johnson’s ability to construct a coherent plan to replace Sunak, mainly because detailed planning is not Johnson’s forte and, in any case, the situation is complex and fluid. However, Johnson is a disruptor and an opportunist. Accordingly, I favour the idea that he has done this simply to create chaos and then hope to profit from what emerges. Johnson’s sense of hubris and supremacy may well make him think that he can replace Sunak and comeback for a glorious second term. However, I find myself in agreement with Ian Dale who also appeared on the programme. Johnson has had a toxic effect on his party and his star is fading fast compared with 2019 when he lied to ‘get Brexit done’ by putting it in a microwave oven, gas mark 4.
The Tory party is also ruthless once someone is of no further use to them. As such, I suspect that analysts and advisors have gamed the various Johnson renaissance scenarios on electoral success. The COVID issue also changed everything. 30 000 unnecessary deaths arising from Johnson’s deliberate act of putting infected COVID patients into care homes, based on Dominic Cummings’ obsession with herd immunity. Alternative choices were available.
I confess that I want Johnson back in power. In case you think that I’m losing my mind, let me explain. Johnson has never taken responsibility for anything in his life. His return as PM would mean he would have to take responsibility for the impact of Brexit and COVID. Rishi Sunak dodges responsibility for both, as they were not his doing. But I very much doubt I’ll get my wish via Johnson’s revenge. We’ll have to settle the matter through the courts and via elections if the British people will not rise up to say that ‘Enough is Enough’.
Johnson’s revenge : Sunakered
Johnson’s revenge will strike a hammer blow to Sunak. Whether it is a knock out blow remains to be seen. It is entirely fair for Baroness Hallett to see the evidence and for her and her team to decide what is relevant and what irrelevant. After all, that is their job as professionals. They will want to decide how well decisions were made and how COVID was prioritised against other goals. We already know that medical evidence was not at the top of the charts from recent releases. Johnson preferred to meet members of the right wing press to discuss newspaper headlines and sales over scientists, statisticians and sages. This is the wrong prioritisation.
Imagine being charged of a crime but insisting that the judge and jury must NOT see the evidence !!
Opening the chamber of secrets
The possible reasons why Rishi Sunak does not want the COVID inquiry fit into two categories : internal combustion and external corruption.
Internal combustion : The WhatsApp trails may reveal a dysfunctional web of relationships with media, COVID party plans, lying to the Queen and avoidable deaths from Rishi Sunak’s “Eat out to help out” scheme. Worst of all, it may expose the blood letting that comes from the chronic internecine warfare inside the Tory party. Some of this may be considered irrelevant information. However, if the balance of internal combustion : focusing on the pandemic is such that decisions were missed, avoided or delayed, such information would rightly be considered as relevant. The strain on Tory party cohesion may be impossible to endure. This may explain Sunak’s attempt to try to bury the COVID inquiry.
External corruption. We may learn how pub landlords were considered to be competent players in the PPE game, when existing medical device companies were ignored. We may also learn more about the £37 billion spaffed on PPE which did not work. Then Russian involvement in Brexit. How COVID was used to mask Brexit carnage. How the Tories briefed the media to feed the public various messages … and so on.
Sunak has now threatened Johnson with the removal of taxpayer funding for his court case. This would seem to indicate that Sunak has something to hide. Of course, the taxpayer should not be funding his court costs, but that’s an entirely separate matter which we are addressing via a petition. Meanwhile Johnson continues to lie in order to save himself.