Dare we trust the UK government?


Photo credit: Annika Haas (EU2017EE; CC BY)

True to form, the UK government has started their media PR machine and war-mongering rhetoric to blame their own ignorance and breach of International Law on the EU, so one has to ask: with so much hot air flying from the mouths of these Tories, can we trust the UK government to do anything to a professional standard?

After completing this article for Yorkshire Bylines on the government’s commitment to breach International Law, I reviewed social media – where some legal academics and lawyers post content and discuss developments – and I subsequently wondered if I should rename the article: ‘SOS: UK government have gone full despot.’

The worsening behaviour of UK politicians is astonishing. Just when one thought it could not get any worse, they do something more unpleasant than the preceding day. I think back to when the UK had the benefit of John Major, who presided over recovery from a recession and played his part in the ceasefire in Northern Ireland. Or Tony Blair, a world-respected politician with flair and intelligence, who introduced the UK to more centrist politics. Of course he is rightly tainted by his Iraq decision – human life is worth more than hastily agreeing with the Americans – but overall the UK had a sense of dignity, stability and a voice in the world arena. I regret I did not take more notice of Gordon Brown, because since his service as Prime Minister the UK has been tarnished with less than mediocre politicians who put party politics before the good of the UK and its citizens.

We have seen the continued haphazard handling of Covid-19, the posturing for the media in the hope that the public will blindly accept the latest slogan, the distinct lack of respect for the legal system. Now we have the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill which means domestic and international law might not be adhered to. I honestly cannot keep up with the daily chaos, therefore I cannot imagine how it must feel for the general public who may not understand the legal and economic consequences of the government’s actions.  

For those who may wonder why there was such an outrage about the Bill, apart from the UK committing to breach International Law where it sees fit, it is perceived as an attack on Scottish devolution, risks the Good Friday Agreement and even reminded some reviewers of the Enabling Act of 1933. While I have been aware of the alarming similarities between 1930s Germany and the current state of affairs in the UK, I hoped I was wrong. However, the way the Conservatives are conducting themselves is either a disturbing coincidence or planned to facilitate their complete control over the UK and its citizens, unless they are held to account when things go wrong, as they inevitably do.

The main problem for me is the divisive approach by government which has been ongoing for over four years, dividing the country, even friends and family, on Brexit, and on nationalism and migration. The continued abuse towards anyone who wanted to continue EU membership (whether their reason was for work opportunities, travel, education or simply because the government’s own report stated that the UK would be permanently poorer from Brexit) has continued since the 2016 EU referendum. We left the EU in January 2020, so it begs the question why the government is obsessed with the ‘Remain’ voters, unless it is because they truly are trying to make them seem as though they are ‘enemies of the people.’

That aside, it is evident that Johnson is trying to create a judicial system which bows to the government and that he has no respect for the UK’s laws or its international obligations. This element is the most concerning because it is a recognised step on the road to fascism. Even though I hope that the government are not following a fascist guidebook, the path that they are on is a dangerous one and one that reeks of a dictatorship.

Anyone who does not fit in with Johnson’s agenda is at risk: senior civil servants have already resigned, there is a threat to judicial review, which is the main recourse the public have to legally challenge government, and Johnson is favouring Conservative donors and his friends by giving them contracts using public funds. The latter point is no surprise to those of us who know of Johnson’s conduct as Mayor of London.

The UK has become an international embarrassment over the last four years, particularly under Johnson. Quite frankly, this latest Bill makes the government look completely untrustworthy, which it – most probably – is.

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