James O'Brien: PM is top of a pyramid 'infected' with his contempt for the rules

20 January 2022, 13:09

By Tim Dodd

This was James O'Brien's blistering analysis of a government pyramid "entirely infected" with Boris Johnson's contempt for the rules.

It comes as William Wragg, chairman of the Commons Public Administration Committee, urged MPs to report any attempt to blackmail them over their support for a no-confidence motion against the PM to the police.

James asked: "Is it all part of the same theme?

"You put a man in charge who simply doesn't believe the rules apply to him. Everything from marriage vows, to being held to promises you make to your employers. From manifesto pledges, right through to the Conservative party's traditional claim to be an upholder of family values.

"You take Boris Johnson, a unique politician by any measure... and you put him at the very top of the pyramid of power.

"Is it really any shock that within two and a half years of him assuming that position... his approach to life has infiltrated downwards, tricked downwards? I think it might be that simple."

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Reacting to the news that a senior Tory MP has accused the Government of blackmail and intimidation over the treatment of Conservative backbenchers calling for Boris Johnson to quit, James said: "Whips used to make threats and promises to MPs to get them to do the party's bidding, but they ripped up that rulebook and found themselves deploying new tactics, new threats.

"Threats which William Wragg believes constitute criminal acts, actual blackmail.

"How does that happen? Answer: because the man at the peak of the pyramid thinks that rules are ridiculous. He thinks that rules are beneath him, he thinks that rules are for little people.

"So the next layer of the pyramid ends up thinking the same... and then the next layer of the pyramid, and then the next layer of the pyramid, and the next layer of the pyramid, until they're all having a knees up in the Downing Street garden the night before Prince Philip's funeral."

James concluded by describing the government as "this weird phalanx of the most self-satisfied people to ever pollute British politics who're possessed with the wit and decency of gnats".

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