Decency’s Limits: Abuse and Blocking on a Conservative MP’s Facebook Wall

On a post dated 26th March 2021, the Conservative MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosbie, announced an amnesty for all those who had been banned from her Facebook page in response, she claimed, to rudeness and abusiveness to herself and others.1 The same post refers her readers to a pinned post outlining her house rules, among them the claim that her Facebook page as MP for Ynys Môn is not a place for ‘discussing policy’, and the warning that she will continue to block those whose comments are ‘irrelevant’ or ‘inappropriate’ or ‘rude.’2

An article on North Wales Live, published on 25th February, describes some of the rudeness and abusiveness to which she has been subjected, and not always by her constituents: descriptions of her as a ‘slag’ and ‘cunt,’ and comparisons of her with the grey squirrel, also an incomer to the island, that must be ‘culled’ to protect the indigenous population. She compares such language to the racist abuse meted out to Marcus Rashford and the racist and sexist abuse meted out to Diane Abbott in response to their politics, yet she also points out that the people of Ynys Môn are not hostile to the Conservatives as a group, since they have elected one as their MP.3 Her thinking here may be flawed. To feel oneself the object of hatred and contempt because of things one cannot or should not change – one’s sex or sexuality, one’s race or religious background, one’s nationality or language – is to feel a sense of moral revulsion and of utter powerlessness at this violence against one’s personhood, one’s very right to exist and flourish. When compounded by burdens of history, of poverty or powerlessness, such violence causes psychological harm not suffered by the victims of reverse discrimination,4 and the sense that there is nothing one can do, no change one can make to earn the respect and acceptance to which one is entitled by birth, is a part of that suffering. By contrast, many of the 59% of Ynys Môn’s electorate who voted for local and left-wing candidates, and who feel that Virginia Crosbie has utterly failed them as their MP, would be mollified by changes in her politics.

To hear such language used against an MP, to hear, as her comments in the newspaper state, that female MPs consistently suffer more online abuse than their male colleagues, will also cause those constituents profound concern. And to hear her expressions of solidarity and understanding towards other victims of discrimination and hate would be encouraging, were it not for the casual racism and sexism of her Prime Minister; were it not that he and a criminal friend plotted actual violence against a reporter;5 were it not for the manufactured victimhood of her Conservative colleagues, Lucy Allen and Simon Hart, who seemingly faked evidence that they had been subjected to hate crimes;6 if she acknowledged that hate crimes against minorities have risen under her government’s rule;7 if she took respectful note of the rising abuse of left-wing lawyers, and of academics such as Tanja Bueltmann,8 neither wealthy nor powerful, who has been abused as a ‘bitch’, a ‘cunt’, a ‘dumb slut’ and a ‘dirty EU whore’, and threatened with ‘gang rape’ and ‘Coxing’ for her opposition to the government’s British Nationalist policies; or if she acknowledged those calls for the extermination of the Welsh as a people and the open expressions of fascism which have been emboldened by her government’s rhetoric.9 Such omissions might arise from a failure of moral understanding, a failure to imagine the experiences and perspectives of people who have suffered or died under austerity, or suffered hate crimes following Brexit, and whose rightful moral demands upon her, however ill-expressed, will not be met by mere neighbourliness or niceness.10 Yet her comments in North Wales Live also seem disingenuous, for they say nothing of the abusiveness of her supporters, who remained at liberty on her wall to bully and harass her critics, or of those critics who were banned for politely questioning her voting record, and whose comments in my hearing in response to their experiences, and hers, have shown remarkable compassion and restraint.

Yet I have another reason for thinking her comments disingenuous, since I am among those who, contrary to her claim of a general amnesty, remain banned from her Facebook wall. She may have chosen to preserve the bans of those who are not her constituents, in contrast with Leanne Wood, who has also been a victim of hate crimes,11 and who engages with her critics, allows discussion of current affairs inside and outside her Rhondda constituency, and allows impartial observers to judge for themselves whether those who hate Plaid Cymru or those who support it are the more reactionary and vile. Yet as a resident of neighbouring Arfon, I have been repeatedly included in mass mailings of Virginia Crosbie’s constituency newsletter; some of those who were abused by her supporters and then blocked are my friends; some of those abusive supporters were reportedly from England; some of my friends were left shaken and distressed by their racist remarks about the Welsh people; and she herself, along with her colleague, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury, has taken the liberty to comment on Welsh national matters which are not her concern, even while supporting government policies which have caused her constituents great suffering.12 Moreover, my banning was a response not to abusiveness or threats, any more than it is to the Conservatives as people that I feel hostility. My anger is aroused by the jobs that have been lost,13 the lives cut short,14 the town in her own constituency ruined beyond repair,15 the local housing crisis worsened by Brexit and by Covid, and the local health crisis deepened by second home owners’ contempt for the rules;16 and the futures blighted by her party’s misrule.17 My reminders of these realities necessarily took the form of moral condemnation. No doubt she would not be alone if she considered such morals ‘irrelevant’ or such condemnation ‘inappropriate’ or ‘rude’, and perhaps she would not be alone in accounting such ‘rudeness’ to be a greater injustice than the pride and greed of wealth and power that have led to the suffering I refer to. For those whose behaviour falls far from decency, who support a government which is degenerate,18 lawless,19 negligent,20 callous,21 mendacious,22 profligate,23 and corrupt,24 will shout that they themselves are the victims when they are told what decency demands.

  1. Virginia Crosbie. Facebook, 26th February 2021. 

  2. Virginia Crosbie. Facebook, 22nd February 2021. 

  3. Andrew Foregrave, ‘Online hate and unwanted mail - The lows that “cowardly” trolls stoop targeting female politicians.’ North Wales Live, 25th February 2021. See also Janet Finch Saunders, ‘“This Senedd election campaign was the most confrontational I've ever known” — Janet Finch-Saunders.’ North Wales Live, 18th May 2021, which achieves the same air of hurt and innocent surprise that society after ten years of Conservative rule is not very nice. 

  4. American Psychological Association, ‘Psychological responses to racism similar to trauma symptoms.’ PsyPost, 16th November 2011. University of Iowa, ‘Researchers find alcohol abuse is linked to racial discrimination.’ PsyPost, 2nd July 2016. Eric W. Dolan, ‘White Americans with supremacist beliefs are more likely to report symptoms of racial trauma.’ PsyPost, 12th June 2020. 

  5. Adam Bienkov, ‘Boris Johnson called gay men “tank-topped bumboys” and black people “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”.’ Insider, 9th June 2020. Simon Murphy, ‘“A couple of black eyes”: Johnson and the plot to attack a reporter.’ The Guardian, 14th July 2019. 

  6. Matt Datham, ‘Tory MP admits adding “death threat” to Facebook post over Syria air strikes vote.’ The Independent, 8th December 2015. Harry Cockburn, ‘Tory MP accused of adding swastika graffiti to his own election placard to get sympathy.’ The Independent, 29th November 2019. 

  7. Robert Booth, ‘Racism rising since Brexit vote, nationwide study reveals.’ The Guardian, 20th May 2019. ‘Disability hate crime – is “benefit scrounger” abuse to blame?’ Poverty and Social Exclusion: Defining, measuring and tackling poverty, 14th August 2012. Nadia Khomami, ‘Hate crime linked to schools in England and Wales soars.’ The Guardian, 29th January 2018. ‘Increase in online hate speech leads to more crimes against minorities.’ Cardiff University News, 15th October 2019. 

  8. Mark Townsend, ‘Lawyers claim knife attack at law firm was inspired by Priti Patel's rhetoric.’ The Guardian, 10th October 2020. ‘Solicitors Facing Hatred, Abuse & Threats: Immigration and asylum lawyers targeted for daily online abuse.’ New Law Journal, 13th October 2020. James Silvester, ‘A Chat with Tanja Bueltmann.’ James Silvester, undated website post. 

  9. ‘“EU rats out” Banbridge graffiti linked to attack on Bulgarian family — “despicable” say police.’ Belfast Telegraph, 5th October 2017. ‘Racist who sprayed swastika on Welsh Assembly building jailed.’ CPS (website of the Crown Prosecution Service), 2nd December 2019. Harri Evans, ‘Swastika spray-painted outside Gwynedd home of black family in shocking racist attack.’ North Wales Live, 13th June 2020. Anoosh Chakelian, ‘Populist fascism is coming to the UK – who is fighting against it?’ The Spectator, 9th August 2018. 

  10. Sarah Hodgson, ‘Awkward moment woman realised her Good Samaritan was North Wales MP she’d been “badmouthing”.’ North Wales Live, 17th February 2020. 

  11. Nino Williams, ‘Man jailed after sending Leanne Wood disgusting threat saying he hoped she was “gang raped by immigrants”.’ Wales Online, 15th July 2016. 

  12. Allan George, ‘Dismay on Anglesey at severity of lockdown.’ North Wales Chronicle, 18th December 2020. ‘Shrewsbury MP deletes tweet calling for Welsh Parliament to be scrapped after backlash.’ Nation Cymru, 15th October 2020. Adrian Masters, ‘We don't expect Brexit disruption at Holyhead, Gove tells Welsh MP.’ ITV News, 11th November 2020. ‘Brexit: Holyhead port plans “shambles” claim by first minister.’ BBC News, 1st December 2020. 

  13. ‘Brexit Job Loss Index: 436,296 Jobs Lost As Of 31 January 2020.’ Small Business Prices, 31st January 2020. 

  14. Sarah Boseley, ‘Austerity blamed for life expectancy stalling for first time in century.’ The Guardian, 25th February 2020. 

  15. Sarah Dickins, ‘Brexit: UK-Ireland lorry traffic at Holyhead port slumps.’ BBC News, 7th January 2021. Ryan O’Neill, ‘The startling impact of “taking back control” on the port at the frontline of Brexit in Wales.’ Wales Online, 25th February 2021. 

  16. ‘Second homes crisis set to worsen because of Brexit and Covid-19, warns report.’ Nation Cymru, 2nd March 2021. ‘Second home owners “sharing tips on avoiding police” to sneak into Wales at night.’ Nation Cymru, 4th April 2020. ‘Don’t “focus” on second homes to tackle housing crisis, says Tory MP.’ Nation Cymru, 24th April 2021. This last article, which features a photograph of Virginia Crosbie posing in front of a portrait of Margaret Thatcherg, contains her comment that second-home owners are not the ‘root’ of rural Wales’s housing crisis, yet the apparent contradiction in her comments, on the one hand that the housing crisis is ‘complex’ in its causes, and on the other that it is all the Welsh government’s fault, undermine any hope that she has either the intelligence or the integrity to comment usefully on her constituency’s needs. One would do better to take a clue from her own grinning Thatcherism, and consult Andy Beckett, ‘The right to buy: the housing crisis that Thatcher built.’ The Guardian, 26th August 2015. Yet her own refusal to ‘focus’ on the housing crisis, like her refusal to ‘focus’ on Brexit, on her government’s lamentable failures during the Covid crisis, or on its law-breaking and corruption, is commendable. Instead, she has brought to the public eye such pressing matters as a mention of her attempts to attract, with Blytonesque enthusiasm, Boris Johnson’s attention in The Daily Telegraph (a tour of the island, and a panad at the Truck Stop Café, Holyhead. Facebook, 20th May. The Telegraph describes her as ‘beaming’), National Walk to School Week (Facebook, 21st May 2021), Trearddur Bay Beach Clean (Facebook, 1st June 2021) and World Bike Day (Facebook, 3rd June 2021), with a rather lovely note of congratulation to Boris Johnson on his third marriage to his former mistress (Facebook, 30th May 2021). Neither are her concerns always so provincial. An encomium to Virginia Crosbie, written by Virginia Crosbie, modestly mentions that Virginia Crosbie’s concern for the mooted Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station on Anglesey attracted the praise of a Certain Personage whose name is not unknown in the Corridors of Power (Virginia Crosbie, ‘Anglesey MP is commended for her support of the Wylfa Newydd project.’ In Your Area, 9th June 2021). It was only Alok Sharma, but a gig’s a gig. 

  17. George Osborne, ‘HM Treasury analysis on the immediate economic impact of leaving the EU: George Osborne's speech (Archived).’ UK Government Website, 23rd May 2016. Lianna Brinded, ‘Brexit does not provide a single major opportunity to improve the UK economy in the long term.’ Business Insider, 29th March 2017. Pippa Crerar, ‘Each Brexit scenario will leave Britain worse off, study finds.’ The Guardian, 18th April 2018. Lisa O’Carroll, ‘Millennials may lose up to £108k over 30 years with no-deal Brexit.’ The Guardian, 25th October 2018. Nicholas Barr, ‘OK, Generation Z – this is how Brexit will affect you.’ London School of Economics, 9th January 2020. 

  18. Laura Hughes, ‘Stephen Crabb sent young woman sexually explicit messages after rejecting her application for role in his office.’ The Telegraph, 28th October 2017. Heather Stewart and Haroon Siddique, ‘Tory minister faces inquiry after getting female assistant to buy sex toys.’ The Guardian, 29th October 2017. Fiona Simpson, ‘MP sex pest scandal: 36 Tories named over sexual misconduct allegations in Tory spreadsheet of shame.’ Evening Standard, 30th October 2017. Tom Peck, ‘Three Conservative MPs referred to party's disciplinary panel over sexual misconduct claims just days after it was set up.’ The Independent, 5th November 2017. ‘Tory minister who asked secretary to buy him sex toys sacked.’ The Independent, 9th January 2018. Nicola Bartlett, Boris Johnson’s partner “screamed get off me” in furious late-night row with Tory leadership favourite.’ Daily Record, 22nd June 2019. ’Call for whip to be removed from Bridgend MP Jamie Wallis.’ BBC News, 11th January 2020. Samuel Lovett, ‘Tory MP invited 21-year-old intern to “fool around” with him and asked out member of staff.’ The Independent, 21st July 2020. Ryan Hooper and Andy Shipley, ‘“I’m a naughty Tory MP” jailed for sickening sex attacks on two women.’ The Daily Record, 15th September 2020. Jack Peat, ‘Ex-Tory MP who resigned after sending sexually explicit pics to a journo landed PPE contract worth £180m.’ The London Economic, 18th May 2021. ‘Johnson rejects new sanctions for MP facing suspension for sexual misconduct.’ Nation Cymru, 27th May 2021. ‘News in brief: Disgraced Delyn MP set to escape Commons expulsion vote.’ Nation Cymru, 24th June 2021. Peter Davidson, ‘Boris Johnson stands by Matt Hancock as Downing Street refuses 8 times to say if Health Secretary broke law.’ Daily Record, 25th June 2021. Jez Hemming, ‘Disgraced Delyn MP to return to the House of Commons next week.’ Nation Cymru, 2nd July 2021. Aubrey Allegretti, ‘Tory MPs suspended for trying to influence judge in Elphicke case.’ The Guardian, 21st July 2021. 

  19. Owen Bowcott, Rowena Mason and Anushka Asthana, ‘Supreme court rules parliament must have vote to trigger article 50.’ The Guardian, 24th January 2017. Owen Bowcott, Ben Quinn and Severin Carrell, ‘Johnson’s suspension of parliament unlawful, supreme court rules.’ The Guardian, 24th September 2019. Martin Shipton, ‘Bridgend Conservative MP's companies prompted more than 800 complaints to trading standards, says council.’ Wales Online, 10th January 2020. Henry McDonald, ‘Former Tory donor’s housing project “unlawfully approved to avoid £40m hit.”’ The Guardian, 27th May 2020. Diane Taylor, ‘UK plan to use navy to stop migrant crossings is unlawful, lawyers warn.’ The Guardian, 7th August 2020. ‘High Court finds DWP unlawfully refused Universal Credit to disabled students for seven years - only for Secretary of State to change the law to bar them again.’ Disability Rights UK, 12th November 2020. Rajeev Syal and Heather Stewart, ‘Bullying inquiry “found evidence Priti Patel broke ministerial code.”’ The Guardian, 19th November 2020. Sally Weale and Ben Quinn, ‘Gavin Williamson unlawfully removed child safeguards in pandemic, court rules.’ The Guardian, 24th November 2020. David Conn, ‘Matt Hancock acted unlawfully by failing to publish Covid contracts.’ The Guardian, 19th February 2021. Chris Grey, ‘Frisking Frost.’ , 12th March 2021. Rob Merrick, ‘Priti Patel accused of breaking Geneva Convention with plans to deny asylum rights to refugees crossing Channel.’ The Independent, 10th May 2021. Sophie Morris, ‘COVID-19: Priti Patel faces calls to resign as court rules barracks housing for asylum seekers unlawful.’ Sky News, 3rd June 2021. ‘UK court rules government acted unlawfully in contract award.’ The Independent, 9th June 2021. Andrew Woodcock, ‘Michael Gove broke law over Covid contract for friends of Dominic Cummings, court rules.’ The Independent, 9th June 2021. Gregor Young, ‘Michael Gove investigation ruled out despite unlawful contract ruling.’ The National, 9th June 2021. Jack Peat, ‘Hancock avoided sack because standards ‘do not exist’ in Johnson’s Govt.’ The New European, 27th June 2021. Miranda Bryant and Steven Morris, ‘Stonehenge tunnel plans continue despite high court ruling: Highways England says it is proceeding with £1.7bn scheme after judge declared it unlawful.’ The Guardian, 4th August 2021. Rowena Mason, ‘Covid contracts: minister replaced phone before it could be searched.’ The Guardian, 4th August 2021. See footage of Michael Gove being questioned in parliamentary select committee on ministers’ use of informal communication methods, where their discussions cannot be traced: Jon Trickett MP (@jon_trickett), ‘We now have government by Burner Phone.’ Twitter, 5th August 2021. 

  20. Adam Forrest, ‘Inside Politics: Sage scientists wanted Boris Johnson to impose full lockdown.’ The Independent, 13th October 2020. Ian Sample, ‘British exceptionalism undermined pandemic preparedness, MPs told.’ The Guardian, 2nd December 2020. ‘Decision not to bring in Wales-style “circuit break” lockdown led to Cummings resignation – report.’ Nation Cymru, 13th December 2020. Jessica Elgot, ‘England’s coronavirus lockdown strategy flip-flops: a timeline.’ The Guardian, 4th January 2021. ‘The Guardian view on Britain’s pandemic record: a monument to failure.’ The Guardian, 27th January 2021. Heather Stewart, ‘UK government failed public on Covid response, says Dominic Cummings.’ The Guardian, 26th May 2021. Heather Stewart and Peter Walker, ‘Dominic Cummings says Boris Johnson “unfit for job” of PM amid Covid crisis.’ The Guardian, 26th May 2021. Andrew Macluca, ‘UK has over 10 times the Covid cases of the entire EU.’ The London Economic, 1st July 2021. Peter Walker and Heather Stewart, ‘Data predicts 2m UK summer Covid cases with 10m isolating.’ The Guardian, 6th July 2021. Rafael Behr, ‘Boris Johnson cries “freedom” to fill the void where his leadership should be.’ The Guardian, 6th July 2021. Deepti Gurdasani, ‘Ditching England’s Covid restrictions is a dangerous experiment.’ The Guardian, 7th July 2021. Deepti Gurdasani et al, ‘Mass infection is not an option: we must do more to protect our young.’ Correspondence. The Lancet, 7th July 2021. DOI: ‘Lifting lockdown in England poses threat to the entire world, say 1,200 scientists.’ New York Times Post, 17th July 2021. 

  21. Patrick Butler, ‘Sanctions: staff pressured to penalise benefit claimants, says union.’ The Guardian, 3rd February 2015. Maya Bly, ‘Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks food banks are ‘uplifting’. For me, they’re a necessity.’ The Guardian, 15th September 2017. May Bulman, ‘UN condemns UK government’s “mean-spirited and callous approach” to poorest, in damning report.’ The Independent, 16th November 2018. ‘May Bulman, More than 17,000 sick and disabled people have died while waiting for welfare benefits, figures show.’ The Independent, 14th January 2019. May Bulman, ‘“Let down by the system”: Six-stone emaciated man deemed fit for work by DWP dies.’ The Independent, 22nd April 2019. Rob Merrick, ‘“Cover-up”: DWP destroyed reports into people who killed themselves after benefits were stopped.’ The Independent, 26th February 2020. Jonathan Portes, ‘And so the appalling human consequences of the austerity experiment become clear.’ Prospect, 25th March 2020. May Bulman, ‘Number of children relying on food banks more than doubles during lockdown, figures show.’ The Independent, 1st May 2020. Liam Thorp, ‘DWP boss refuses sympathy for mum who died next to starving child.’ Liverpool Echo, 2nd September 2020. John Pring, ‘Philippa Day: Flawed PIP system led to young mum’s death, says coroner.’ Disability News Service, 28th January 2021. Jamie Redman and Del Roy Fletcher, ‘Violent bureaucracy: A critical analysis of the British public employment service.’ Critical Social Policy, 23rd March 2021. Diane Taylor, ‘Priti Patel’s detention policies found to breach human rights rules.’ The Guardian, 14th April 2021. Jack Peat, ‘Johnson said he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” than reimpose lockdown.’ The London Economic, 26th April 2021. Richard Ault and Oliver Clay, ‘Tragedy of mum-of-four “found dead in her hat and scarf in her freezing flat after her benefits were cut.”’ Wales Online, 15th May 2021. See also Nick Reeves (@nickreeves9876), ‘The Tory response in parliament to the truth of Cummings’ testimony was laughter and derision. 150 thousand deaths were made the subject of jeering mockery. The Tories are the smirking enemies of truth and human decency. They are the enemies of democracy.’ Twitter, 28th May 2021. ‘I make no apology for this kind of language. The Tory response to Cummings' allegations should have been a careful examination of the facts, showing respect to the 150 thousand dead and their families. Instead, our rulers showed smirking mockery, and that should be terrifying.’ Twitter, 28th May 2021. ‘Hannah Arendt - “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.” The Tory attitude to truth is fascist.’ Twitter, 28th May 2021. Clare Fallon, ‘The reality of British children in poverty: no beds to sleep in or clean clothes to wear.’ Channel 4 News, 14th July 2021. John Pring, ‘DWP agrees to stop high-pressure tactics on eve of court hearing.’ Disability News, 15th July 2021. Andra Maciuca, ‘“Cruel Britannia”: Heartbreaking foodbank note goes viral.’ The London Economic, 22nd July 2021. Adam Forrest, ‘Britain heading for biggest cut to social security since WWII, think tank warns.’ The Independent, 23rd July 2021. 

  22. Paul Krugman, ‘The case for cuts was a lie. Why does Britain still believe it?’ The Guardian, 29th April 2015. Owen Jones, ‘No alternative to austerity? That lie has now been nailed.’ The Guardian, 24th August 2017. Emilio Casalicchio, ‘Vince Cable: Theresa May suppressed up to nine reports showing immigration benefits.’ Civil Service World, 11th September 2017. Jonathon Read, ‘Boris Johnson has been caught out over lies about Turkey and immigration.’ The New European, 18th January 2019. Peter Stubley, ‘Boris Johnson: The most infamous lies and untruths by the Conservative leadership candidate.’ The Independent, 25th May 2019. Nicola Bartlett & Dan Bloom, ‘60 lies of Boris Johnson: Tory leader's curious relationship with the truth.’ The Mirror, 11th December 2019. Rahul Mansigani, ‘As the son of an immigrant, I know Priti Patel is telling you lies about free movement after Brexit.’ The Independent, 3rd October 2019. Amelia Morel, ‘Top 8 Brexit lies debunked.’ Shout-Out UK, 1st November 2019. Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler, ‘Home Office chief Sir Philip Rutnam calls Priti Patel a lying bully.’ The Sunday Times, 1st March 2020. ‘Irish Examiner View: Boris Johnson is a liar and a cheat.’ Irish Examiner, 10th September 2020. Jonathon Read, ‘Boris Johnson appears to finally admit his “£350m a week” claim was wrong.’ The New European, 18th September 2020. ‘Boris Johnson branded “most accomplished liar in public life” by former cabinet colleague.’ The Independent, 5th November 2020. Peter Kellner, ‘Boris Johnson’s top ten lies in his first year as prime minister.’ The Independent, 13th August 2020. Rob Merrick, ‘Tory party urges activists to campaign like Trump by “weaponising fake news” and “fighting wokeism”.’ The Independent, 15th December 2020. Jim Chisolm, ‘The big Brexit lie has been rumbled.’ The New European, 21st December 2020. Chris Grey, ‘The Reckoning: Brexit & the Legacy of Lies.’ Byeline Times, 25th January 2021. Peter Oborne, ‘A Selection of Misleading Statements Made by Boris Johnson & Ministers on the Floor of the House of Commons: July 2019 – December 2020.’ Byeline Times, 11 March 2021. ‘The Observer view on the grim effects of Brexit being impossible to hide.’ The Guardian, 14th March 2021. Harry Cockburn, ‘Viral video of Boris Johnson “lying to parliament” approaches 10 million views.’ The Independent, 13th April 2021. Dan Sabbagh, ‘Ex-minister Johnny Mercer says “almost nobody” tells truth in Johnson’s government.’ The Guardian, 21st April 2021. Luke Harding, Jessica Elgot & Andrew Sparrow, ‘Accusations of lying pile up against Boris Johnson. Does it matter?’ The Guardian, 30th April 2021. Ian Dunt, ‘Dominic Cummings’s Covid select committee evidence was a story of liars – told by a liar.’ iNews, 26th May 2021. Aubrey Allegretti, ‘Matt Hancock should have been sacked for lying, says Dominic Cummings.’ The Guardian, 26th May 2021 (allegations that Matt Hancock lied to officials are highly relevant in this context, since they raise questions as to Virginia Crosbie’s competence and integrity in her role as his Parliamentary Private Secretary). Jamie Grierson, ‘Napier barracks: Priti Patel accused of misleading MPs.’ The Guardian, 10th June 2021. Chris Grey, ‘Britain’s Brexit Shame.’ Brexit & Beyond, 11th June 2021. ‘“We draw nothing out of an English buffer”: Drakeford brands Hancock claims about Welsh success “factually untrue.”’ Nation Cymru, 11th June 2021. Andrew McDonald, ‘Dominic Cummings: Boris Johnson knows its “ludicrous” he’s prime minister.’ Politico, 5th July 2021. Annette Dittert, ‘The Politics of Lies: Boris Johnson and the erosion of the rule of law.’ Oxford for Europe, 10th July 2021, a translation of an article in Blätter. ‘The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s Brexit lies: reality demands a rewrite.’ The Guardian, 21st July 2021. 

  23. Torcuil Chrichton, ‘Official report reveals the hated benefit sanctions regime costs taxpayers £153 million more a year to run than it saves.’ Daily Record, 30th November 2016. Matthew Weaver, ‘By the busload: £940m bill for Boris Johnson's mayoral “vanity projects.”’ The Guardian, 18th August 2017. Caroline Lucas, ‘HS2 is a vanity project that should be scrapped for good.’ The Metro, 22nd January 2020. Rob Merrick, ‘“Get Ready for Brexit” campaign spent £46m of taxpayers’ cash without making a difference, watchdog finds.’ The Independent, 28th January 2020. Albert Evans, ‘HS2 train route is “a vanity project for people who want to get to London quicker,” says Lord Berkeley.’ i News, 11th February 2020. George Kerevan, ‘Boris Johnson just flushed £400m down the drain on this vanity project.’ The National, 6th July 2020. Tom Peck, ‘Dido Harding is serving her country – and there are 4,000 positives to be taken out of that.’ The Independent, 18th September 2020. Léonie Chao-Fong, ‘The Vanity Projects The Government Is Spending Money On Rather Than Feeding Kids.’ Huffington Post, 22nd October 2020. The Jouker, ‘Scathing New York Times pieces details Tory “waste, negligence and cronyism.”’ The National, 17th December 2020. Prem Sikka, ‘Tories waste billions of taxpayers’ money.’ Chartist, 5th January 2021. Patrick Daly, ‘NHS Test and Trace boss Dido Harding defends paying consultants £1,000-a-day.’ The Independent, 18th January 2021. Rachel Reeves, ‘The price of the Tories' outsourcing obsession? Cronyism and waste.’ The Guardian, 8th February 2021. Joe Mellor, ‘Another vanity project? Watchdog contacts Tories over six figure Downing St flat revamp for Johnson.’ The London Economic, 20th March 2021. Wales to receive less money to spend on transport ‘for decades’ thanks to HS2.’ Nation Cymru, 22nd March 2021. Mark Brown, ‘‘Festival of Brexit': first events for divisive £120m project announced.’ The Guardian, 24th March 2021. 

  24. Laurence Darmiento, Melody Petersen and Jack Flemming, ‘A Pasadena startup got billions selling COVID tests. Then came questions.’ Los Angeles Times, 28th July 2021. Patrick Greenfield, ‘No-deal Brexit ferry company owns no ships and has never run Channel service.’ The Guardian, 30th December 2018. ´UK and territories are “greatest enabler” of tax avoidance, study says.’ The Guardian, 28th May 2019. Albert, Evans, ‘Coronavirus: ventilator parts maker says ‘nothing happened’ for weeks after he offered to help Government.’ iNews, 26th March 2020. ’Tax avoidance, bailouts and bribery – The UK government’s Corona Corporate Finance Facility.’ Tax Watch, 6th June 2020. George Turner, ‘Billions are being lost due to tax avoidance – yet a weak HMRC is trying to pretend everything’s fine.’ The Independent, 21st June 2019. Felicity Lawrence, ‘Hancock's former neighbour won Covid test kit work after WhatsApp message.’ The Guardian, 26th November 2020. George Monbiot, ‘If you think the UK isn’t corrupt, you haven’t looked hard enough.’ The Guardian, 10th December 2020. Tom Batchelor, ‘Covid contract-winning firm owned by Hancock’s neighbour is investigated by health regulator.’ The Independent, 22nd February 2021. Adrian Zorzut, ‘Matt Hancock secures £90m PPE contract with firm listed in Chinese hotel room.’ The New European, 9th March 2021. Gabriel Pogrund and Caroline Wheeler, ‘David Cameron lobbied No 10 and Hancock for Greensill.’ The Times, 10th April 2021. Jon Stone, ‘Dyson lobbying row: Government ministers do what Boris Johnson did “all the time”, says minister.’ The Independent, 23rd April 2021. Jedidajah Otte, ‘“Frankly, it stinks” – Keir Starmer renews call for inquiry into government sleaze.’ The Guardian, 24th April 2021. Toby Helm and Michael Savage, ‘Johnson faces MPs’ fury over Downing Street sleaze claims.’ The Observer, 24th April 2021. Andrew Woodcock, ‘“Mad and unethical”: Cummings says Boris Johnson wanted to drop lockdown leak inquiry to avoid upsetting fiancée Carrie Symonds.’ The Independent, 24th April 2021. Clea Skopeliti, ‘No 10 refurb row: Grieve calls Boris Johnson “vacuum of integrity.”’ The Guardian, 24th April 2021. Jack Peat, ‘Cummings “haunted by fear that he could end up in prison” over Vote Leave spending and govt conduct.’ The London Economic, 26th April 2021. Nicola Slawson, ‘Lord Bethell “failed to declare meetings” with firms that got £1bn contracts.’ The Guardian, 30th June 2021. Jon Stone, ‘Former Tory councillor got £120m ‘VIP lane’ government contract for face shields now lying unused.’ The Independent, 26th July 2021. 

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