Jo Swinson: Hiding from scrutiny, Boris Johnson's campaign is not worthy of someone seeking to be Prime Minister
Next in our General Election series, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, writes that, if Boris Johnson wins a majority, "there will be no holding him to account" - he will take us backwards on the environment, the economy, and on our place in the world.
The problem with Boris Johnson is very simple – you can’t trust a word he says and he only cares about himself. When he told ITV that he’d never lied in his political career, I can’t have been the only one wondering if he’d just forgotten that a couple of months ago, he was busy lying to the Queen to unlawfully shut down our democracy.
Maybe he had forgotten. Maybe not. Maybe that, like everything else, was just another lie.
That’s the problem in his election campaign – you can never put your finger on what you’re being promised and when it’ll turn to dust. And you know that when it does, Boris Johnson will be nowhere to be seen.
Because Boris Johnson is hiding from you. He's hiding from you if you want to know where his extra 50,000 nurses will come from or where those 40 new hospitals are going to be. He's hiding from you if you want to know about the customs checks Northern Ireland is going to need. He's hiding from you if you’re wondering how he is going to pay for all the policies in his manifesto with a faltering economy and a devastating Brexit.
Boris Johnson is hiding from you because there aren't going to be 50,000 new nurses (it turns out 18,500 of them already work for us) or 40 new hospitals (it’s 6 – and they’re not being built, they’re being ‘reconfigured’. He is hiding from you because he doesn't know how much his policies will cost and he can’t be bothered to work it out.
He is hiding from us because he does not want you to know that getting a withdrawal agreement done is only the very first step to leaving the EU - the first episode of a 10-season boxset. He’s hiding because no country has ever negotiated a new trade agreement from scratch with any of our major trading partners in less than a year. Despite all he says about getting Brexit done in a matter of weeks, we know that it will be just the beginning of years and years and years of more negotiations.
Boris Johnson is hiding from me as well. That’s why you won't see him at a debate podium next to me this election.
During my time in Parliament I have worked with MPs from all parties on initiatives as varied as making Parliament more family-friendly to preventing a no deal Brexit. As Leader of the Liberal Democrats I have welcomed to our party both former Labour and former Conservative MPs, who share our liberal values and no longer had a place in the parties they had campaigned for as they grew more extreme. I have worked with as many people as I can on issues I believe in – that’s a vital part of politics. Meanwhile, the only person Boris Johnson’s managed to work with is Nigel Farage.
An election campaign based on hiding facts and hiding from scrutiny is not a campaign worthy of someone seeking to be Prime Minister.
We deserve to see him, to question him, to hold him to account.
If Boris Johnson wins a majority on 12th December, there will be no holding him to account. He will always put his own interest ahead of the national interest. He’ll lie and break promises to get what he wants. He wants to take us backwards. Backwards on the environment, backwards on the economy, backwards on our place and strength in the world. Backwards until the only things moving forward are US drug companies and chlorinated chickens.
So my message is clear – if you want to stop Boris Johnson this election, vote Liberal Democrat.
Jo Swinson is Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party and prospective parliamentary candidate for East Dunbartonshire.