IT’S only been a week since Boris Johnson survived a vote of no confidence by a much narrower margin than his remaining supporters had expected.

Despite their assertions that he had learned his lesson, the resignation letter of his ethics adviser Lord Geidt makes it abundantly clear that the only lesson Johnson had learned was that he can break any rule, trash any principle, and his spineless party will always allow him to get away with it.

Geidt's letter reveals that he resigned his position after being put in an "odious position" when Johnson asked him to approve a move which according to Geidt would "risk a deliberate and purposeful breach” of the Ministerial Code.

Geidt is Johnson's second ethics adviser. The first, Alex Allan, resigned in November 2020 after Johnson chose to overrule his finding that Home Secretary Priti Patel had bullied staff and had therefore breached the Ministerial Code. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one ethics adviser is unfortunate, to lose two looks like carelessness.

However, even the publication of Geidt's resignation letter leaves questions unanswered. A spokesperson for Johnson was unable to explain why Geidt was being asked to advise the PM on a matter relating to tariff policy – an unprecedented move as the ethics adviser does not normally give advice on government policy, but rather on the behaviour of individual ministers. Johnson claims that the issue was a proposal to breach WTO trade rules, but this would normally be a matter for the Government's law officers, not an independent adviser on ethics. 

The most likely conclusion here is that Johnson is still lying and still trying to cover up a damaging story that could further weaken his already fragile position.

Johnson has refused to confirm whether he intends to appoint a replacement for Geidt. Being an ethics adviser to Johnson is an impossible job, like teaching quantum physics to Schrodinger's cat. The cat may or may not be alive, but it's definitely not interested. Johnson is too afraid to appoint a new ethics adviser in case that one resigns too and then we will all know that losing ethics advisers is not just careless, but a deliberate habit. 

We can all be certain however that this latest scandal will, like all the others that came before it, change absolutely nothing and that even if Johnson is eventually forced from office, the dysfunctional Westminster system which allowed such a man who is manifestly unfit for office to attain such power will continue on unaltered, and that whoever does take over will be deeply compromised by Johnson's lies and corruption and will continue in a similar, if perhaps less blatant vein.

The Tories know a great deal about contempt for democracy and the rule of law. That is why they are so desperate to avoid another independence referendum. The referendum will allow the people of Scotland the opportunity to hold the Conservatives to account for their lies and the way in which they have broken all the promises that they made to Scotland in 2014 in order to secure a No vote. That is why, as the First Minister pointed out about Douglas Ross at FMQs today: "It is very telling that he is so terrified of the substantive debate on independence, so terrified of the verdict of the Scottish people on independence, that he's reduced to trying to pretend that, somehow, democracy in Scotland is illegal."

If the only way that the Conservatives and Labour can find of preserving their so-called precious Union is by denying Scottish democracy and refusing to allow the people of Scotland to have a say on it, then by definition it is a Union which does not have space for Scottish democracy and a Union that is beyond saving.

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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