BREXIT triggered a “culture of lying and corruption” which will not go away even if Boris Johnson is no longer Prime Minister, according to a former UK Government civil servant.

Johnson has faced accusations of dishonesty, most recently over denials that a lockdown Christmas party at Downing Street took place.

Richard Haviland, who spent part of his career in the Department for International Development and Foreign Office, argued it was the process of leaving the EU which began “to lead to a culture of lying and corruption”.

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Writing in a blog for the European Movement in Scotland, he said: “It wasn’t Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street that introduced the poison into our system, even if he significantly increased the dose.  It was Brexit.”

Haviland, who worked with several different government departments for 25 years, resigned in 2019 because of “what ensued from Brexit”.

The National:

He told the Sunday National: “From day one in a normal process, whatever you thought of the [Brexit] referendum, you would have expected some kind of consultation, some kind of attempt to build consensus. 

“What happened was the opposite – there was a very obvious policy of division, practised from day one by Theresa May. Not because I think she is the main villain of the piece, but I think she is just too weak and she was so manifestly the wrong personality type to be in position at that point.

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“Brexit was forcing lies out of people – ministers having to pretend it was a good thing because the people had voted for it.”

He added: ”I think the absolute collapse in standards we are seeing, which is accelerated under Johnson, was brought about by the vote.

“It has now got very extreme – we are in a culture where ministers’ only option now is to lie. If they start to tell the truth, they are signing their own death warrant. We are kind of in a vortex, if you like.”

Haviland said if Johnson was to go as Prime Minister it would only “superficially” reverse some of the damage.

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But he added: “Unless you get someone who is courageous enough to undo some of the worst damage of Brexit, and I don’t see anyone who is, then the damage will continue.”

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Haviland, who is a member of European Movement in Scotland but speaking in a personal capacity, was a No voter in 2014, but has now switched to supporting independence.

He said: “My bottom is line is I am conflicted [on independence] – my history, my upbringing is all unionist, so supporting it is quite a hard thing to have to admit to yourself.

“But my main priority is my children and what is the best future for them – and I think of the two options independence offers the better chance of their growing up in a functioning liberal democracy.

“I don’t think there is an easy path – independence would be a painful process, just in terms of if you look at the divide across Scotland.

“There is no option I relish right now, but if I got the vote there is no question I would vote for independence.”

Yesterday the SNP highlighted latest figures which show UK economic growth has slowed due to supply chain issues, with exports “subdued” due to Brexit.

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan said: “Pro-Brexit leaders Boris Johnson and Michael Gove promised that leaving the EU would create endless opportunities that would allow Britain to flourish outside the single market.

“It was a lie then and it is a lie now. Brexit is an economic perma-crisis and the damage it is doing will only grow more serious with time.”