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Ex-British PM calls actions of Johnson's government 'politically corrupt'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Britain's former Prime Minister John Major (File photo)

Former British Prime Minister John Major says the actions of fellow Conservative Boris Johnson have trashed Parliament's reputation at home and abroad, calling them “politically corrupt.”

Major’s remarks came after Johnson's government made an embarrassing U-turn on Thursday on plans to overhaul the system for combating parliamentary corruption, with the lawmaker whose case had provoked the row quitting his job.

The government had tried to block the suspension of Owen Paterson, who had broken lobbying rules, but then reversed its decision and later apologized.

"I think the way the government handled that was shameful, wrong and unworthy of this, or indeed any government," Major, Britain's prime minister between 1990-1997, said in a BBC interview.

"There's a general whiff of 'we are the masters now' about their behavior," he said. "They also behaved badly in other ways that are perhaps politically corrupt."

Major, who campaigned to keep the UK in the European Union and who criticized Johnson over this handling of Brexit, said his government had “done a number of things that have concerned me deeply.”

“They have broken the law, the prorogation of Parliament. They have broken treaties, I have in mind the Northern Ireland Protocol. They have broken their word on many occasions."

He also warned Johnson that suspending parts of Northern Ireland's Brexit deal would be "colossally stupid."

Doing so, he argued, would further destabilize Northern Ireland, and damage relations with the rest of Europe and the US.

The former premier’s own government was brought down in part because of allegations of sleaze and the cash-for-questions scandal where MPs were offered money in exchange for asking parliamentary questions.

This was "immensely damaging, it was embarrassing, it hurt Parliament," said Major.


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