India’s COVID crisis and a snowballing ‘sex scandal’ endanger Boris Johnson’s visit to New Delhi -

India’s COVID crisis and a snowballing ‘sex scandal’ endanger Boris Johnson’s visit to New Delhi


A business executive knowledgeable about the “Enhanced Trade Partnership” being negotiated between the two nations for announcement when Johnson is in Delhi stated: “As of now, the visit is on. Although the nature of the programme may be different to the normal PM visit due to social distancing.”

Meanwhile, Johnson’s friendship with an American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri when he was mayor of London has caused a stir. It’s not so much the salacious claims about sex that she made in an interview to the British tabloid The Mirror that’s at issue; but whether Arcuri, whose companies benefitted from over £100,000 of public funds, did so because of her closeness to Johnson.

In 2019, he became the first British head of government to enter office with a girlfriend rather than wife in toe. While there have over the centuries been four bachelor prime ministers in Britain, before the turn of the millennium no divorcee would likely have been elected party leader, let alone be pitchforked to power. Certainly not in Johnson’s quite conventional Conservative party. Partners rather than spouses are more in vogue in the less rigid opposition Labour party.

The John Profumo affair in the 1960s rather shook Britain. Here was a middle-aged Secretary of State for War in a liaison dangereuses with a fetching 19-year-old model Christine Keeler, who was contemporaneously involved with a naval attache and suspected spy in the Soviet embassy in London. The minister denied the connection in the House of Commons. But after Keeler confessed the dalliance to police, Profumo was compelled to step down.

Within four months, his prime minister, Harold Macmillan, also vacated office. Though not responsible for his cabinet colleague’s indiscretion, his departure – ostensibly because he developed a prostrate problem (which doctors diagnosed as benign) – was partially a fallout of the Profumo bombshell.

John Major, who succeeded Margaret Thatcher as premier in 1990, and his wife Norma were considered to be a traditional couple. After his defeat in the 1997 elections, though, Conservative MP Edwina Currie revealed he’d had a four-year fling with her before he became prime minister.

In 2019, the UK’s Independent Office for Police Conduct concluded no criminal case was made out as far as Johnson’s ties with Arcuri were concerned, but it remarked he ought to have declared an interest in her. The No 10 spokesperson Allegra Stratton was adamant her boss has “no case to answer”, despite the London Assembly, since Arcuri’s latest disclosures, widening an ongoing investigation into Johnson’s conduct.

Seven principles of public life set out by Lord Michael Nolan in 1995 as ethical standards public servants should abide by, are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Johnson is morally bound to adhere to these. However, given the comfortable majority he enjoys in the Commons and in the absence of any challenge to him within his party, he is likely to brazen through any charges of transgression.

Johnson and his staff at the mayor’s office – which he occupied between 2008 and 2016 – were briefed on the importance of admitting personal friendships after he failed to divulge his alleged extramarital ties with Helen Macintyre, an unpaid adviser who is said to have given birth to his daughter in 2008.



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