Fear, humiliation, shame, these brakes no longer apply. The Government has found that it can bluster through any scandal.
No minister needs to resign. No minister needs to apologise. No one needs to explain.
And as public fury grows over the billions of pounds of coronavirus contracts issued by the Government without competition, it appears determined only to grant more of them.
Never mind that the consulting company Deloitte, whose personnel circulate in and out of Government, has been deeply criticised for the ruinous system it created to provide protective equipment to the NHS. It has now been given a huge new contract to test the population for COVID 19.
Never mind that some of these contracts have reportedly cost taxpayers £800 for every protective overall delivered. Never mind that at least two multi-million pound contracts seem to have been allocated to dormant companies.
Awarding contracts to unusual companies, without advertising, transparency or competition now seems to have been adopted as the norm and several of the firms that have benefited from this largess are closely linked to senior figures in the Government.
Every week, Boris Johnson looks more like George I, under whose Government vast fortunes were made by political favourites, through monopoly contracts for military procurement.
Any facade of fiscal rectitude or democratic accountability has been abandoned – with four more years and the support of the billionaire press, who cares.
The way the Government manages public money looks like an open invitation to corruption and while it’s difficult to ascertain that any particular deal is dishonest, the framework under which this money is dispensed invites the perception.
When you connect the words’ corruption and the United Kingdom, people tend to react with surprise and outrage because corruption is something we believe happens abroad.
Indeed, if you check the rankings published by Transparency International or the Basel Institute, the United Kingdom looks like one of the world’s most pristine countries, but this is a relic of the narrow criteria they use.
Thievery by officials in more impoverished countries amounts to between $20 billion and $40 billion a year. That’s a ton of cash and it harms well being and democracy in those countries.
But this figure is impeded by the illegal flow of money from impoverished and middling countries that are managed by multinational companies and banks and the US research group Global Financial Integrity calculated that $1.1 trillion a year flows illegally out of more impoverished nations, robbed from them through tax evasion and the transfer of money within corporations.
The Corporate Tax Haven Index published by the Tax Justice Network reveals that the three countries that have done most to promote these thefts are the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
All of them are British territories and Jersey, a British dependency, came seventh on the list and these places are effectively satellites of the City of London, but because they’re overseas, the City can benefit from shady activities, while letting the British Government maintain distance when scandals emerge.
The City of London’s extraordinary exemption from the UK’s freedom of information laws creates an additional ring of secretiveness and it furthermore seems that the United Kingdom is the money laundering capital of the world.