We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Boris Johnson’s first year as Prime Minister has been a year of attacks on our liberal democracy.

July 27, 2020 5:24 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

In our Democracy the Prime Minister and Government are accountable to Parliament, not the other way round, and yet Boris Johnson has been systematically unpicking the vital checks and balances which moderate his powers. Without these, it is a slippery slope towards an elective dictatorship.

Boris Johnson's attempt to prorogue Parliament was ruled 'unlawful'.

In just a year he has:

1. Illegally prorogued Parliament: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Boris Johnson's attempt to prorogue Parliament at the height of the Brexit crisis was unlawful and "had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions."

2. Attacked the Supreme Court: After they ruled his decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, Boris Johnson attacked the Supreme Court and said they were wrong to have challenged his decision.

3. Giving Dominic Cummings direct oversight of all senior Government advisers: Johnson has even undermined members of his own Government - by requiring special advisers who traditionally are appointed by, and work for, individual cabinet ministers - to sign new contracts which give Dominic Cummings responsibility for their conduct and discipline.

4. Attempted to silence dissenting voices within his own Party: When Dr Julian Lewis MP won an election to become Chair of Parliament's Intelligence and Security committee, beating Johnson's preferred candidate, Lewis immediately had the Conservative Whip withdrawn.

5. Allowed his Ministers and Advisers to continue to hold senior public office, despite evidence of serious misconduct: Boris Johnson refused to hold Dominic Cummings to account after he breached the Government's lockdown rules. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was shown to have approved a housing development by a billionaire Tory donor, against the advice of the planning inspector, but has kept his job.

Johnson refused to hold Cummings to account after he breached the Government's lockdown rules.

6. Attempted to suppress Russia report: Boris Johnson made repeated attempts to stop the publication of a report from Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, into Russian interference in British politics.

7. Routinely makes Government announcements at press conferences, rather than at the dispatch box: reducing the opportunity for proper Parliamentary scrutiny through questions from opposition MPs.

8. Forcing out independent senior civil servants: Since Johnson came into office, there have been multiple allegations that senior civil servants are being sidelined or stepping down altogether, after disagreements between them and Johnson's team.

9. Making political appointments to independent advisory roles: David Frost, a long-time adviser to the PM has been nominated as the new National Security Adviser - this has not historically been a politically appointed role, and Mr Frost does not have any background in security and intelligence.

10. Attempts to weaken the BBC as an independent public service broadcaster: Johnson's Government have refused to step in to protect the BBC, which is being undermined by budget cuts which will see reductions in its political programming and news coverage.

No one should be allowed to hold so much power, without proper scrutiny.

There are already more worrying proposals on the table for the coming year, which could see more powers consolidated with Johnson and Cummings; and further erosion of the vital mechanisms which hold the Prime Minister to account.

No one should be allowed to hold so much power, without proper scrutiny.

The Liberal Democrats will always stand up against attempts to undermine our democracy - having a strong liberal voice in British politics is more important than ever.

We must fight these attempts by Boris Johnson to try and seize unchecked power for himself. Will you join us?