Together we must hold the Johnson government to account. This is not the time to be silent.

Together we must hold the Johnson government to account. This is not the time to be silent.

By: Nick Dearden
Date: 25 July 2019

priti_and_dominic_raabBoris Johnson has become Prime Minister, he has chosen his government and we have reasons to fear it could be severely damaging to the values we hold dear. Together, we must hold the Johnson government to account, and push the alternatives that bring us closer to the world we want.

On trade and aid, on economic and foreign policy, and even on the basics of being a democratic leader, Johnson has already crossed some serious red lines.

He has now also appointed a cabinet of ultra-free marketeers like Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng, fixated on a plan to ‘unchain Britannia’ by conceding to the demands of big business.

We have never needed movements that can hold politicians to account more than we do right now. ​

Toxic trade deals

Boris Johnson has been clear that he wants to complete a trade deal with the Trump administration as soon as possible. It’s his priority. But as we discovered from leaked information last week, such a trade deal would seriously compromise the British government’s ability to hold big business to account. In the opaque talks which have already taken place, US officials have tried to bully Britain out of introducing a special tax on Big Tech companies like Amazon and Google. This adds to what we already know: a US trade deal would fundamentally compromise our public services and our food standards.

The end of international development

Earlier this year, Johnson supported proposals that would effectively spell the end of international development. The proposals called for an end to an independent department of international development and proposed watering the definition of ‘aid’ down to the point where it could be spent on… more or less anything the government feels like. More aid would flow into profit-making finance, to the ministry of defence, or to bribe countries to do trade deals with us.  In his foreword to the proposals, Johnson said future aid should “do more to serve the political and commercial interests” of Britain.

Explicit racism

Finally, Johnson has made explicitly racist and bigoted comments that exceed anything a modern prime minister has come out with publicly – women who wear the niqab are “letter boxes”, Africans are “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”, gay people are “tank-topped bumboys”. Now Johnson threatens the very institutions that provide a check on his power – refusing, for instance, to rule out the suspension of parliament to get his far-reaching ‘no-deal’ Brexit passed. Rather like Donald Trump, Johnson seems to be a politician without the normal constraints on his behaviour. A man who will himself cross what are normally considered democratic red lines in order to maintain power.

Our movement

So the need for movements which can hold politicians to account couldn’t be more important. It’s the only chance we’ve got of turning things around. It’s natural to be scared. We all have things to lose. But if we can’t stand up now, in this moment when it’s most necessary, when the dangers are so great, then we render ourselves useless. Global Justice Now has been holding governments to account for nearly 50 years. We hold every government, of every political complexion, to account. We will not be silenced now.

By joining Global Justice Now you’ll make our campaigns stronger and our voice louder.


Photos: Wiki Commons Priti Patel/ Dominic Raab