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Britain believes it’s free of corruption. But there’s still the stench of decay | Rafael Behr

David Cameron’s political afterlife reveals a zone where accountability dissolves; in its place flow money and access

If you are pulled over for a traffic offence in Britain, the fine is not usually settled with a wink and a roll of banknotes for the police officer. In court, judges do not rule in favour of the highest bidder. I have spent enough time in countries where cash bribery lubricates every cog of the state to believe that the UK is not, by global standards, corrupt.

Transparency International’s 2020 index of perceived corruption ranked Britain 11th in the world. For European context, that puts us eight places behind Finland, 12 above France and 118 clear of Russia, where the barrier between politics and theft has collapsed and the most prominent campaigner on the issue, Alexei Navalny, was jailed earlier this year.

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