Peter Oborne. Journalist. Former chief political commentator of The Daily Telegraph.
Full transcript, Peter Oborne article published New York Times, 11 July 2022.
Please excuse punctuation! As digitally recorded.
"Boris Johnson is the most venal, the biggest liar, the most immoral and the most incompetent Prime Minister in all British history. There is however going to be a battle, fought over Johnson's posthumous reputation. We're already seeing a vigorous attempt to create the myth of the lost leader this magnificent lonely courageous politician who led Britain out of the European Union and this is a man who was brought down, to quote the Daily Mail, by 'Pygmies'.
Johnson was deliberately constructing his final act. He wanted to go out in drama and he succeeded. He's a rule breaker he wants to reinvent reality, and that's quite deliberate it's the theater the way he goes. It will take a lot of people in there are going to be a lot of Boris Johnson loyalists just as there are Trump loyalists. He will want to shape the Conservative party even while out of office and I predict that he will be quite successful in this.
There's been a claim that ministers such as Sajid Javid, Rishi Sunak and co were acting honourably. That claim is unsustainable it is actually the opposite of the truth. They didn't mind when Johnson seems to have lied to the Queen. They didn't mind about the completely mendacious and fabricated 2019 General Election manifesto. They all sat in the House of Commons listening to Boris Johnson lie week after week from the dispatch box it didn't seems to bother them in the least. In fact they would go out afterwards into television studious and defend the Prime Minister and repeat his lies. This applies to Sunak it applies to Javid.
All of the contributors to the coming leadership contest are part are complicit in the moral squalor of the Johnson period in office.
The Tory party no longer exists as it used to do until quite recent times as a sort of manifestation of much wider civil society it is now owned by oligarchs and by a handful of non-dom press barons who successfully mobilized international capital in order to run the publicity machine which took Johnson into power what we're going to see now that Johnson has gone is the newspapers and the donors looking for somebody else who will serve their ends they will seek to choose the next leader of the Conservative party just as they chose Johnson almost exactly three years ago it's too early to say who that person will be because they've got to show that they will have the policies which will please the billionaires whoever wins will come in on tax cuts they will continues the policy of confrontation with the European Union they will continue the war against Human Rights they will continue the weaponization of asylum seekers and they will continue the general attack on the rights and freedoms of the British people particularly in the workplace those policies will be fitted for three categories of people the right-wing press the big billionaires and that tiny Tory membership is a minute constituency and not in any way representative of the rest of the county but these people have the privilege of choosing the next Conservative leader and therefore the person who can be Prime Minister for the next two and a half years and one key figure here very unknown to the public but enormously important to today's Conservative party somebody called Ben Elliot.
Remember that name, he is the money man inside the Conservative party the umbilical cord which links Conservative party donors to the Conservative party machine. he's the founder of a company called quintessentially. It's a kind of concierge service for the super rich and so if you're a oligarch or billionaire and you land in London and you want to go to the best parties or go and have dinner with the Royal family or meet politicians on special terms you go and knock on Mr Elliot's door that is what the Tory party has now become a vehicle for very very rich people to have such a figure as chairman of the Conservative party tells you everything you want to know about how Boris Johnson has governed Britain for the last three years.
I'll tell you an example of how the media really was determined not to upset Johnson and his associates. Two months into the Johnson premiership I noticed the fact that he was lying all the time and this was new. May haven't been like that. Cameron hadn't been like that Gordon Brown hadn't been like that, so I went to Channel 4 and I said let's make a dispatches documentary documenting Johnson's lies they showed some interest and then it was stopped. I said to the production company what about the BBC said no, no, no, they won't be interested. I went to the Spectator magazine I was told that they were too close to Downing Street. I then went to the Daily Mail for which I had a column and I did write a piece but that was killed, it was impossible at that time in the run-up to the 2019 General Election to say through vast tracts of the British media that Johnson lied, whereas you could say anything you liked about Jeremy Corbyn. You could really make any stuff you liked up about Jeremy Corbyn and nobody was going to worry about it or complain. I finally wrote a piece for Open Democracy. I showed how political journalists were being used by the Johnson political machine to smear their opponents they themselves were part of the machinery of deception that is what happened in the run-up to 2019. although Johnson was a very distinctive figure he did at the height of his powers have a amazing almost mesmeric effect on quite a large number of people ultimately he was the manifestation of a broken system or a corrupted system is a better phrase, whereby the super-rich govern British public life he was able to rise because of powerful anti-democratic forces. First of all the manipulation of the mainstream media, its failure to do its job and secondly the power of billionaires. Something went hideously wrong to enable somebody we can now see to being a venal cheat and liar to occupy the most important position in British public life.
The collapse of the Johnson government is taking place at a terrible moment in British social and economic life. We are probably entering a period of economic fragmentation on a scale that's not seen maybe since the 1970s. Possibly not since the 1930s. People can't afford to live. There will be plenty of people trying to step into the breach and provide excuses for economic failure and pointing their fingers at vulnerable people. That is the way you move towards a right-wing populism and veering even towards a certain stage fascism. Boris Johnson has resigned and a lot of people are really pleased about that and so they should be. Mr Johnson has resigned in shame and disgrace. He has done immense damage to this country but I would warn people don't be too optimistic. I don't think things get any better from here, they may get worse. Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister it'll be very important to hold them to account if the record of the mainstream media with Mr Johnson has anything to go by."