BORIS Johnson is still in office despite the lockdown-busting parties, the multiple lies, the deceit and the widespread speculation that a sufficient number of Conservative MPs would write to the 1922 Committee chair to force a vote of no confidence and a Conservative leadership challenge.

Yet here we are – cabinet ministers are briefing the press that no leadership challenge will materialise.

It would be nice to say that this was a surprising and shocking development, but this is the UK, and this is Westminster – the most shocking thing is that it is not surprising at all.

Johnson is not out of the woods yet, but the longer this saga trundles on, the greater his chances of survival become. Johnson and his cronies are desperate to move the narrative on from this damaging scandal, and with every day he survives in office, the more likely it becomes that they will be able to do so and that the impact of any further revelations will be blunted.

What is already clear, however, is that Johnson has no intentions of going quietly and will have to be forced kicking and screaming out of office.

He is not just digging in – he has shown that he is more than willing to play dirty in order to remain in power.

He has made it clear to the Conservatives – who are now, as always, motivated primarily by their self-interest and greed for power – that he is quite prepared to take the Conservative Party down with him if they try to make a move against him.

Johnson is quite prepared to use Trumpian tactics in order to remain in power. He shamelessly lashed out at Labour leader Keir Starmer, repeating a baseless far-right slur which falsely accused him of refusing to prosecute the serial rapist and child abuser Jimmy Savile when Starmer was director of public prosecutions.

Johnson also alleged, without offering any evidence, that the members of Labour’s frontbenches were guilty of drug abuse.

In doing so, Johnson revealed the true nasty and vicious personality which lies beneath the veneer of his carefully constructed jovial and joking public persona.

We are currently in the obscene situation where SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has paid a higher price for calling Johnson out for his lies than Johnson has paid for lying.

The serious lesson for those of us who support Scottish independence is that this unedifying episode, even if it does eventually result in Johnson’s removal from office, proves that there is no effective mechanism in the UK for holding the prime minister to account.

Even when we are dealing with a prime minister such as Johnson, who has undoubtedly lied repeatedly and who may have broken the law, the only means of providing any kind of accountability is to hope that a sufficient number of MPs from his own party will decide that it is in their own and their party’s interests to make a move against him.

Without accountability there can be no democracy. Every day that Johnson remains in power is further proof that the UK is a failed democracy.

The issue of democratic accountability must be positioned front and foremost in the independence referendum campaign that lies ahead.

It is only in an independent Scotland, with a written constitution and a specified procedure of impeachment for those who abuse the privileges of high office, that democracy in Scotland can be guaranteed.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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