Leading article

Boris Johnson needs to be held to account

The UK's Conservative government which held office from 2017 stumbled from one crisis to another under the leadership of first Theresa May and then Boris Johnson, and was widely regarded as among the most inept in Westminster history.

Labour supporters were initially looking forward to the British general election which eventually took place in December of last year in the belief that they were destined for a return to power with a sizeable majority.

Jeremy Corbyn instead somehow managed to steer his party to a defeat which was so devastating that many political commentators believed it would leave the Tories in control for the next decade.

As Mr Johnson is an English nationalist, with little interest in the views of those from outside his power base, there is a growing prospect that he is the prime minister who will preside over the final break-up of the union.

If Scotland, where voters are furious about their removal from the European Union against their clearly expressed wishes and are increasingly alienated from London control in any event, manages to secure another independence referendum, the Irish implications are obvious.

Mr Johnson may think he is in a strong enough position to ignore any pressure from the Scottish Parliament, but there is always a possibility that his questionable judgment will rebound on him closer to home.

His decision to appoint Priti Patel, a figure with a deeply questionable record, as his Home Secretary, led to immediate problems and prompted the weekend resignation of the most senior civil servant in her department over claims that Ms Patel had repeatedly engaged in bullying and unacceptable behaviour.

The influence of Mr Johnson's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has also caused considerable alarm at Whitehall, and, even at such an early stage in his term of office, difficult issues are piling up for the prime minister.

If Labour can select a new leader who is capable of overhauling the party and presenting a credible alternative to the electorate, Mr Johnson may find himself under further pressure.

Keir Starmer is the front runner, and there will be widespread hopes that, if he is confirmed in the post in April, he immediately holds Mr Johnson to account in a much more effective way than Mr Corbyn.

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Leading article