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Boris Johnson leaves with ‘trust in politics at an all time low’, say campaigners

Campaigners want the new government to prioritise human rights, the cost of living crisis and eroding poverty. But say there’s a long way to go.

Boris Johnson has left a “deeply damaging legacy” and his resignation will only be the start in a long road to recovery for the country, campaigners have warned. 

The chaotic end to his term as prime minister comes as the UK faces a cost of living crisis, rife inequality and a growing threat to human rights.

Matthew McGregor, the chief executive of political activism group 38 Degrees, said this “damaging psychodrama in Westminster has hurt our democracy”. He claimed: “People are sick and tired of the failures across the government. The lies, the excuses, the lack of attention on the issues that matter to our lives.

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“The British people demand better politics, where ministers take seriously the expectations of the country: to be selfless, to have integrity, to be honest, to show leadership. This is the bare minimum, not some lofty expectation. It is time that the government shows some respect to the public again. 

“After this embarrassing period of dishonesty, drift and chaos, today could be a fresh start. But the dismissal of this disgraced prime minister is not the end of that journey, merely the start of a long process.”

Tom Brake, the director at pressure group Unlock Democracy, agreed. He said: “Boris Johnson leaves a deeply damaging legacy for our democracy, with trust in politics at an all time low, rocked by scandal, lies and rule-breaking. 

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“Any new Conservative leader will have to demonstrate that they will govern in the country’s interests, not their own. This will mean restoring honesty, integrity and selflessness at the heart of government.”

Campaigners say as well as restoring trust in politics, the new government needs to focus on issues such as human rights, the cost of living crisis and poverty. But they feel there’s a long way to go until we get there.

Fiona Rutherford, chief executive of campaign group Justice, said: “Divisive and ill-thought-out policies, such as the repeal of the Human Rights Act and the Rwanda policy, should be abandoned and replaced with policies to invest, improve, and innovate in order to address our creaking justice system and the services that support it. At a time when the cost of living is soaring, we need policies that will finally address the inequalities that plague our society.”

Quinn McKew, executive director at human rights group Article 19, also claimed that Johnson’s government leaves behind a crippling legacy for human rights. She said: “The anti-protest provisions in the Public Order Bill must be repealed, and the train wreck that is the draft Bill of Rights, due to replace the Human Rights Act, should be consigned to the dustbin of history. 

“Along with the misguided and incoherent Online Safety Bill, these and other pieces of legislation currently being debated in Parliament are set to pose some of the most significant erosions of freedom of expression in the UK this generation.”

Louise King, director of policy and campaigns at Just for Kids Law, added: “Under Boris Johnson, children’s rights in England have regressed in many areas and rights protections are seriously under threat with the planned Rights Removal Bill.  Despite some progress to embed children’s rights across government, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated how children’s rights and voices are regularly overlooked in government decision-making.”

As millions across the country struggle through the cost of living crisis, Jo Wittams of the Equality Trust said the support for low-income households has fallen short. She added that Johnson’s resignation brings “further uncertainty for many of us” and called on the government to protect the poorest in the country from falling further behind. 

When it comes to the incoming prime minister, a spokesperson for the Poverty Alliance said: “Scrapping the benefit cap, ending the five week wait for universal credit, and removing the two child limit should be immediate priorities. Failing to take these steps, and continuing with the policies of recent chancellors that have locked so many people into poverty, would be a colossal moral failure.”

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