Yes Johnson is on trial, and so he should be. But the key point is that the assumptions on which our unwritten constitution has always been based are no longer valid. Pompous though it may sound a key assumption was goodwill, honour and a bias towards the truth by our elected representatives both inside and outside Parliament. That bias no longer exists.
Yes the truth always has many faces and a belief in it has been under question and tested before. Saddam Hussain did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction but we were told by the Prime Minister that he did and a war was fought on that premise. A Foreign Secretary resigned because of an honest disagreement over Iraq as earlier one had over what he saw as his personal failure over The Falklands.
Today Minsters only seem to resign if they are photographed groping a colleague in a cupboard. Failure to tell the truth is no longer a resigning offence. Which brings one back to the constitution. If precedents are not followed, if the sort of “case law” that precedent is is not applied and if there are no written rules – no statutes – then those in charge today feel empowered to do what they like.
A written constitution is a legally applicable document that has to be followed unless amended. Without one we rely on people to be “Honourable” and even refer to them in Parliament by this designator. In the past they mostly were. And when they weren’t and lied (it happened) they went. No longer.