Letters: Boris Johnson’s early promise gave way to dishonesty, sleaze and squandered opportunities

No perennial fixtures: petunias outside 10 Downing Street - JOHN SIBLEY/Reuters
No perennial fixtures: petunias outside 10 Downing Street - JOHN SIBLEY/Reuters

SIR – Boris Johnson had the world at his feet when he took power with a large majority. He had the pandemic and Brexit to grapple with, and it cannot have been easy. He has shone in his defence of Ukraine.

Nevertheless, he has fumbled the domestic agenda very badly. Tax-and-spend is not Tory policy and never has been. “Net zero” may be a commendable ambition, but it should not be pursued at the expense of working people. Honesty and integrity should be assumed, but he has failed to uphold those standards.

All this made it essential for Boris Johnson to step down – but I dread to think who will take his place.

Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall

SIR – The first lesson of any leadership course is that the character and success of an organisation is determined by the quality of its leadership.

To be a good leader, individuals need the competence to determine the right policies and the resolve to see them through. But these qualities count for nothing if the leader lacks integrity. This will corrode the organisation, destroying trust, provoking dissent and creating factional strife. The organisation will fail. This is as true of political parties as it was of former commercial behemoths such as Lehman Brothers.

Brand Johnson has no credibility left. It was bad enough his creating policies on the hoof with no understanding of the consequences, but the time came when nothing Mr Johnson said could be taken at face value.

Air Cdre John H S Thomas (retd)
Pitney, Somerset

SIR – Boris Johnson’s premiership is a tragedy that, with his classical education, he should recognise.

A man with a massive sense of entitlement and soaring ambition finally gets the job he has sought all his life, only to find he is utterly unsuited to it. Take away the optimistic bluster and jolly boosterism and there is nothing left. No strategic thinking, no capacity for hard work, no ability to articulate a clear vision in joined-up sentences, and no principles – only expediencies. Overlay deep character flaws, a quick readiness to blame others, an inability to speak the truth and we found to our immense cost that the emperor had no clothes.   

Martyn Thomas
Raglan, Monmouthshire

SIR – Perhaps this would be a good time for Stanley Johnson to take his son aside and read him Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”.

Colin Thomas
Bridgend, Glamorgan

SIR – Those ministers who remained in the Cabinet yesterday either had no conscience or knew that they would have no place in the Cabinet of a new prime minister.

Shame on them either way.

Simon Malcolm
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

SIR – Jacob Rees-Mogg and others have argued that this week’s Cabinet resignations would have a similar effect to those of 1958, when the prime minister, Harold Macmillan, easily survived and went on to win a commanding majority in 1959.

Argument by analogy seldom convinces, and in this case fails. Macmillan was then at the height of his powers, widely admired as Supermac. Boris Johnson is reviled and came to be seen as the proverbial busted flush.

John Cuningham

SIR – Did the British electorate and the Conservative Party not realise what Boris Johnson was like when they elected him as their leader?

Susan Eccles
Tunbridge Wells, Kent

SIR – It is a blessing in disguise that Rishi Sunak resigned as chancellor.

Now perhaps it will be possible to implement, as Lord Frost suggests (Commentary, July 6), “low taxation, low spending, attractiveness to investment, and deregulation on the scale needed”.

Victoria Cockburn
Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire

SIR – May I say a few words in defence of Boris Johnson?

Although I voted against Jeremy Hunt rather than for Mr Johnson in the Conservative leadership election, I must say that I felt extremely proud to be British when the Prime Minister went to Ukraine and stood shoulder to shoulder with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He was the first Western leader to do that – and he deserves our admiration for it.

Sally A Williams
Dinas Cross, Pembrokeshire

SIR – Labour has been pursuing Mr Johnson for months. Its main objective has been to force him out of office, rather than offering coherent policies.

This is madness at a time of real economic and social crisis.

Pascal Ricketts
London SW1

SIR – I have been reminded of a dinner party guest who won’t leave, despite the increasingly desperate hints from their host.

Claudia van der Werff
London SW1

SIR – At least the ghastly wallpaper can soon be replaced.

George Acheson
Fakenham, Norfolk

SIR – On the day when the England cricket team delivered the most astonishing innings, and Cameron Norrie qualified for the semi-finals at Wimbledon, the Government managed to turn the attention on itself and spoil everything for the rest of us.

Julie Emery
Newquay, Cornwall

SIR – Ben Stokes for prime minister.

Hugh Williams
Swindon, Wiltshire

Lessons for London

SIR – My wife and I have just returned from a trip to Vienna.

The city centre is totally pedestrianised. The wide walkways have numerous upmarket shops, which appear to be thriving. There are plenty of cafés serving coffee, beer and snacks. The place is bustling. There is no rubbish, and there are no beggars. If Vienna can do it, surely London can.

Duncan Rayner
Sunningdale, Berkshire

Torpid Land Registry

SIR – I wish M D Plater (Letters, July 5) luck making contact with the Land Registry.

I have lived in the same property for more than 50 years and have discovered that my land was never registered.

We filed a claim nearly two years ago and are still waiting for a response.

Norman Perkins
South Brent, Devon

When Hansard helps

SIR – Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner refuses to let Hansard correct grammar (Letters, July 6).

However, correction is sometimes an advantage. When I worked for Hansard in New Zealand, a Labour MP came into the reporters’ room one day to find out who was responsible for the report of his speech. “Thank you very much for writing my speech so much better than I did,” he said.

Mary Crabtree
Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire

ME and Covid

SIR – I live with a daughter who is seriously ill with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome.

She first contracted the disease aged 14 after a bout of glandular fever, became progressively worse, and eventually had to be hospitalised. She went into remission aged 28, but the illness has now returned. While I understand the desire to normalise and “live with” Covid, I dread bringing the virus into our home because of its potential impact on her.

The ME community faces two immediate dangers. First, the refusal to recognise that those with underlying health issues still need protecting. I continue to wear a mask and keep myself socially distanced.

Secondly, the loss of Sajid Javid, a health secretary who fully understood the seriousness of ME – which is said to affect 250,000 people in the UK – and supported properly funded research into its causes and treatments. We can only hope that Mr Javid’s successor does not force us to return to the days when post-viral illnesses such as long Covid and ME were stigmatised as “yuppie flu”.

Dame Esther Rantzen
Bramshaw, Hampshire

Budgies in growbags

SIR – When I served in the RAF (Letters, July 6), officers were “zobs” or “zobbits”, pilots were “budgies” and their flying suits were “growbags”.

Dave Alsop
Churchdown, Gloucestershire

Assisted suicide is not the way to a ‘good death’

SIR – Andrew Mitchell (Comment, telegraph.co.uk, July 4) makes the case for legalising assisted dying. However, the case unravels when one looks closely at it.

It begins with the deceptive term “assisted dying”. What has been proposed in England and Wales, Scotland, and Jersey is assisted suicide. The doctor supplies the poison but the patient must ingest it through his or her own action (euthanasia is where the doctor takes the action). Taking deadly drugs with the intent to die is suicide, whether one has five or 50 months left to live.

Mr Mitchell is coy about the harm that changing the law would create – but look at the Netherlands.  There, assisted suicide was originally justified in cases of terminal illness, but is now offered to dementia patients, children, those suffering from mental illness, and even tinnitus patients. Or look at Canada, where it is now allowed for many kinds of disability and even depression. Such mission creep is understandable. If suicide is prescribed as a cure, how can it be denied to anyone who suffers?

Mr Mitchell’s case is based on fear of a bad death. The good news is that, even by Dignity in Dying’s own figures, less than one percent of all deaths are anything other than peaceful. We have the best hospice movement in the world in this country and, rather than getting doctors to help people kill themselves, we should ensure that all have good deaths.

Dr Kevin Yuill
Better Way campaign

Russia’s hold over the UN Security Council

SIR – While the world’s focus is on Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine and the blatant and ever more brutal atrocities committed by the criminal in the Kremlin, where are the international voices calling for a fundamental revision of the United Nations Charter?

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has shown that, while the current peacekeeping architecture remains as it is, the UN is powerless to restrain a callous dictator misleading his own people, lying to the rest of the world, and breaking every tenet of international law. The overwhelming opposition of the rest of the nations of the world counts for nothing. The UN General Assembly has twice adopted resolutions rejecting Russia’s illegal war, but Russia has cynically wielded its Security Council veto.

In a nuclear world, if Russia can neither be expelled from the Security Council nor held to account for its criminality and barbarism, then the Charter must be rethought and revised for all our sakes.

Jim Wilson

Letters to the Editor

We accept letters by post, fax and email only. Please include name, address, work and home telephone numbers.  
ADDRESS: 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT   
FAX: 020 7931 2878   
EMAIL: dtletters@telegraph.co.uk   
FOLLOW: Telegraph Letters on Twitter @LettersDesk