Despite his bombastic, venal, morally vacuous, self centred, narcissistic copper bottomed shitery where his relationship with the truth is at best adulterous, there is one very good reason that Johnson should be allowed cling to office for a little while longer. Liz Truss; the bookies favourite to succeed him should the great man lose his political life on the parliamentary equivalent of the Orient Express. It would be like being rescued from the Titanic by the Marie Celeste, but without the jokes.
Sunak is down yet not quite out. Obviously the leaks about his wife were of such detail that it was an inside job as this sort of information is notoriously difficult to come by. I would be amazed if it wasn’t from Number 10. Sunak’s problem is not of avoiding tax or being being less than transparent about his financial affairs, he has been rightly cleared of this. It is about judgment. The green card omission. The rule breaking at Number 10 during lockdown. Perhaps a little naivety about how dirty politics can be and how ruthless a practitioner of the dark arts Johnson is. Perhaps he underestimated more than just a whiff of envy of his unruffled trajectory from Winchester, Oxford, hedgefundary to one of the great offices of state. And his marriage to an attractive and wealthy woman. For some of the no hopers and dispossessed this is far too much good fortune for a mere mortal.
I am a Sunak fan. I would love to see him as prime minister. He is honest, decent and caring. And most of all competent. I would not rule him out of any leadership race yet. But he needs to toughen up. He may not become the king, but he can be the kingmaker.
Johnson has had a good war. He has shown strong leadership in his support for Ukraine, whereas France & Germany have been darkly perfidious. And Hungary? A disgrace. How long will they wish to remain a member of the EU? But having a good war is not enough. The sky is black with Borisian chickens coming home to roost. Inflation at 7%, the highest in thirty years, a massive hike in energy prices, and an eye watering cost of living crisis is happening on his watch. To be fair it’s not all government mismanagement. Some of it is bad luck. But the electorate don’t care. And the people who will be frothing with anger are natural Tory supporters. The hardworking parents with a couple of jobs who take pride in paying their taxes who would be ashamed to use a food bank will be doing precisely that. The JMEMs. The people who used to Just Make Ends Meet. Now they can’t. Through no fault of their own these thoroughly decent people who would think claiming any sort of handout an aberration feel that they have been abandoned and taxed into poverty. They will not forgive us.
So the local elections will be a problem. The cost of living crisis is a problem. Tax rises are a problem. Any more fines for Johnson is a problem. The Sue Gray report is a problem. The resignation of Lord Wolfson, a justice minister is a problem. Even Grant Shapps, whom King Herod would have hired as a spokesman to justify the putting the first male child to the sword as a babysitting solution, was very very uncomfortable on Good Morning Britain yesterday trying to defend the boss. And now that great matriarch of compassion, Priti Patel, has thought of a wheeze to deter the very weakest and most vulnerable who have fled war zones, rape and violence to seek sanctuary in the UK. Send them to camps in Rwanda. Put them in the loving care of ‘evil genius’ president Kagame. The optics of this are terrible, but the morality borders on the wicked. Wait for the scenes of first Ukrainian family given Rwandan hospitality. There will be uproar.
So when will the defenestration of Johnson happen? God knows. But it will. However, the trouble with Tory backbenchers is they now have to fret about which two candidates they would put before the barmy army of activists, who probably think that Jacob Rees Mogg is the Messiah. Heavens, he is not even a very naughty boy. Ben Wallace is very good news and has had a good war pushing Johnson and the Treasury to give the weapons that Ukraine needs. Nadhim Zahawi is a man to be watched and deserves a great office of state. Tom Tugendhat has earned a place in cabinet but realistically that’s about as far as it goes. Oh, and never ever overlook the Saj.
Truss, for reasons I cannot fathom, appears to be the bookies favourite at the moment. Please, please explain the popularity of this medium level manager of a Cyborg collective with a voice that has the strangulated warmth of a Waitrose lift. Quite, quite extraordinary. But her popularity is with Tory activists not the country. If asked by the cabinet to give Johnson the coup de grace she would probably buy him a Belgian lawnmower. Truss is just a metaphor for what the Tory party has morphed into, ambitious inadequacy. Some of us would like our party back please.