Boris Johnson can't pick and choose which democracy he backs

Boris Johnson can't pick and choose which democracy he backs

Catherine Neilan

15:54 6th November 2020

Earlier this week Dominic Raab attacked a president for his "despicable actions", after the man continued to cling onto power that was not rightfully his.

It was not Donald Trump that the foreign secretary was attacking - but Alexander Lukashenko, the man who claims to have won Belarus's August elections with 80 per cent of the vote.

Raab has been particularly vocal about the situation in Belarus where authorities have been found responsible for "massive and systematic human rights violations in response to peaceful demonstrations and protests" in a recent report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

"New elections which are free and fair must now be organised, and those responsible for the violence against demonstrators held to account," he said on Thursday.

But asked his view about the US election - which Trump has claimed is being "stolen" and called for voting to stop amid - Raab was equivocal. It would not be right, he said, for a British minister to comment until after the process was complete.

That view was shared by business minister Nadhim Zahawi, and even the Prime Minister's official spokesman, who refused to tell journalists whether Boris Johnson believed all the votes should be counted on five separate occasions - including one about the broad principle of democratic processes.

The US has for all of our lifetimes been the lodestar of democracy, and hopefully if and when Joe Biden enters the White House it will be again.

But while there is a vacuum smaller democracies like the UK must speak out and stand up for the fundamental human right that every adult has an equal say in the running of their country.

Counting every vote should not be a controversial stance to take, particularly for a country that prides itself in being the "mother of parliaments".

Indeed it is a principle that has been endorsed by Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas and Ireland's Taoiseach Micheal Martin.

Democracy is like freedom of speech, best summed up by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who in a biography of the philosopher Voltaire quoted him as saying:"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Johnson may find Trump more useful in his post-Brexit endeavours but just like the rest of us, he can't pick and choose which democracy to back.

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