Tory leader’s ‘alternative facts’ do not stand up to scrutiny
Boris Johnson has a long record of dishonesty. He lied outright during his appearance on Sunday’s Marr programme, telling viewers that the number of UK children in poverty had gone down by 400,000 when in fact it had risen by half a million.
But that was far from Johnson’s only untruth. In his desperation to get off the hook of responsibility for the London Bridge murderer’s release, Johnson tried to blame the Labour Party’s legislation – and insisted that he had voted against both the 2003 and 2008 Acts passed by Labour.
That insistence that he had always opposed early release was still being repeated by the BBC in its flagship 9pm news this evening.
But Johnson lied:
Johnson’s claim that he had voted against Labour’s 2003 Criminal Justice Act (CJA) was correct – at least technically. Following his party’s ‘whip’, he had attempted to defeat the Criminal Justice Bill.
But Labour’s CJA brought in new law to increase the number of offences that received long sentences – and to impose life sentences on some offenders whose offence might not otherwise attract a long sentence, on the grounds of public protection.
However, he voted for a number of unsuccessful amendments to weaken the Act’s provisions, showing that the Tories’ objections to the bill centred on impingements on liberties, not on risk to the public.
For example, Johnson supported an amendment to change the wording of the Act to remove a provision that allowed ‘qualifying offences’ to be tried again if new evidence came to light – and limit offences that could be retried specifically to murder and rape.
In other words, under the amendment Boris Johnson supported, if the London Bridge killer had been aquitted of the plot for which he was jailed, even if compelling new evidence came to light he could not have been brought to trial again.
But Johnson’s claim about opposing the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (CJI) is wholly false.
When the 2008 bill was voted on in the House of Commons – in January and May 2008 – Johnson did not vote at all, either for or against it.
The 2008 Act was the legislation that brought in early release to ease prison overcrowding – the law that Johnson claims he found utterly repellent.
Yet he did not participate in the vote.
By the time the bill came to the later stages of its passage through Parliament in May, Johnson was not participating in any Commons business – because he was already Mayor of London.
But even in the early states of the process, in January of 2008, Johnson’s name is conspicuous by its absence from the CJI votes. The only Johnsons involved in the votes – either as voting MP or as ‘teller’ – were Labour’s Diana Johnson and Alan Johnson.
No doubt Johnson was busy with the mayoral campaign, having been selected as the Tory candidate in September 2007.
But it certainly means that his parliamentary opposition to the 2008 Act that he was so keen to blame for the London Bridge murderer’s release simply never happened.
And the 2003 Act he voted against was the legislation that toughened the sentencing regime – while amendments Johnson supported would have weakened it.
The Conservative party’s headquarters was asked for comment. Nobody responded.
It was not only Johnson’s dishonesty that was exposed on Sunday – it was also his cowardice.
Johnson didn’t fight his corner and attempt to justify his behaviour and decisions, nor accept responsibility as the leader of the party on whose watch the killer was released.
Instead, he was so eager to duck responsibility and fling blame that he simply made shit up again – either hoping the UK people wouldn’t find out, or not caring.
For Boris Johnson, such behaviour comes as standard. But to resort to it concerning the deaths and injury of British citizens, two days after the atrocity took place, is beyond contempt.
He is unfit to bag shopping, let alone be Prime Minister.
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