Boris Johnson is toast – and his party will be too if MPs don’t dump him soon

Boris Johnson the clown
Stuart Littlewood writes:

A decade ago I used to tease my Tory opponents by saying their party was so short of talent that Boris Johnson would one day be their leader. They just laughed and told me not to be so daft. Now who’s laughing?

In the “i” yesterday Ian Birrell kicked off his brilliant article “Who will rid us of the dreadful PM?” like this:

If it was not so serious for the country, there would be something almost amusing about watching Boris Johnson’s political career unravel before our eyes. He has spent his life fixated on the goal of becoming prime minister, even daring to see himself as a man of destiny on a par with Sir Winston Churchill. He created a clownish veneer to mask the hollowness of his soul and paucity of his ideas, then trampled on family, friends, party and nation to achieve his ambition. Now he sits a lonely figure in Downing Street, his true character exposed by his contemptuous behaviour, while close allies quit in despair, Cabinet ministers distance themselves and Tory MPs demand his departure.

Yet he clings desperately to the premiership…

Ten years ago Max Hastings wrote in the Guardian:

Today most aspirant politicians of every party have not a personal conviction between them. They merely want to sit at the top table, enjoy power, bask in the red boxes and chauffeur-driven cars, then quit to get as rich as Tony Blair.

Boris Johnson was at the Tory conference on Tuesday for one purpose only – the exaltation of himself. This does not much matter when he is only mayor of London, but would make him a wretched prime minister. He is not a man to believe in, to trust or respect, save as a superlative exhibitionist. He is bereft of judgment, loyalty and discretion. Only in the star-crazed, frivolous Britain of the 21st century could such a man have risen so high, and he is utterly unfit to go higher still.

During the contest for the Conservative Party leadership I remember comedian Mark Steel, writing with his usual piercing insight, saying of Boris:

He’ll sort out Brexit because the problem before was that Theresa May was too soft. He’ll use the powerful weapon she was never prepared to employ – telling the EU that we’re BRITAIN, so they can shove their regulations up their @rse. Because we used to run Africa and Ceylon and all sorts…

Acccording to the Times of Israel, Boris’s maternal great-grandfather was a rabbi from Lithuania, which may explain why he called supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “corduroy-jacketed lefty academics” and told the Jerusalem Post in March 2017 that “you have to have a two-state solution or else you have a kind of apartheid system”. This shows how much his chaotic brain was paying attention. And he was Foreign Secretary at the time.

As for Trump’s so-called peace plan, Johnson observed:

No peace plan is perfect, but this has the merit of a two-state solution. It is a two-state solution. It would ensure that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and of the Palestinian people.

Such a fatuous remark because (a) he clearly hadn’t read it carefully, (b) the Palestinians weren’t consulted, and (c) as Jewish News stated, a Palestinian capital would be established on the outskirts of East Jerusalem while most of Jerusalem, including the sublime and ancient walled city (which is officially Palestinian territory) would remain under Israeli control. That was perhaps the cruellest part of the Zionist swindle and Trump had signed up to it. So had Boris.

Max Hastings, writing in the Guardian more than two years ago, said of him:

There is room for debate about whether he is a scoundrel or mere rogue, but not much about his moral bankruptcy, rooted in a contempt for truth… He would not recognise the truth, whether about his private or political life, if confronted by it in an identity parade.

I have known Johnson since the 1980s, when I edited the Daily Telegraph and he was our flamboyant Brussels correspondent. I have argued for a decade that, while he is a brilliant entertainer who made a popular maître d’ for London as its mayor, he is unfit for national office, because it seems he cares for no interest save his own fame and gratification.

I have a hunch that Johnson will come to regret securing the prize for which he has struggled so long, because the experience of the premiership will lay bare his absolute unfitness for it.

Last October in Bloomberg Hastings was comparing Boris to Trump

Johnson is a more intelligent and cultured man than Trump, yet he displays a similar contempt for rules, precedents, decency, truth. One of Britain’s most distinguished historians emailed me during the summer to observe that he thinks our current prime minister “the most morally debased leader Britain has had since the 18th century”.

And in December Hastings was telling Matt Frei on LBC:

I was absolutely stunned by the idea that anybody else should ever have thought that he was a fit person for public life. The people I’ve really got it in for are not Boris Johnson… It’s the people who put him there. They knew he was a clown, they knew he was an entertainer, they knew he was not a serious person, they knew that he cared only for himself and never showed any evidence of caring for any other human being except himself.

And for good measure he tweeted in The Times: “I wrote three years ago that, if Boris Johnson ever achieved his ambition to become prime minister, Britain would forgo any claim to be considered a serious country”

Election wipeout?

Regardless of all the slings and arrows, it looks like Boris, with his mighty ego, will try to tough it out after several aides quit Number 10 in disgust. He’s desperately doing a “reset” which involves revamping Number 10 with new senior appointments and has picked two MPs, Steve Barclay as the new chief of staff and Andrew Griffith as head of the policy unit. These sound like full-time jobs and it’s doubtful that voters will like Boris hijacking the MPs from their prime duties – representing their constituents in Parliament. So, another half-witted move.

And in come new aides, including Guto Harri until recently a director of a consultancy firm lobbying on behalf of Huawei, the Chinese tech giant accused of spying and considered a risk to national security. No, you simply couldn’t make this stuff up. As soon as he arrived Harri, the new communications chief, gave an interview saying Johnson was “not all that clownish” – hardly the most professional comment to make in the circumstances.

Even if this wallpapering saves his neck it will come at a terrible cost. Those who pay will be the Tory candidates in the local council elections in three months’ time, plus all the dedicated party workers who’ll see their efforts come to nothing. What happens to the party’s fortunes after that is anyone’s guess.

It never was just about the deluge of headlines telling of boozy partying during lockdown (“party-gate”) and scandalously lying about it. Most people had made up their minds long beforehand that Boris was a total twit and an utter embarrassment, especially on the international stage. How could Tory MPs, knowing what he was like, have voted him into the top position? Imagine him meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s everything Putin despises. And we’ve seen what a hash he’s made of our relations with Iran, which is no enemy of ours and used to be (pre-1950s) a valued friend until the Tories back then did the dirty on their fragile new democracy.

If he doesn’t go voluntarily – and very soon – the party mandarins will make him an offer he simply cannot refuse: the gentlemanly revolver on the silver tray or the knife between the shoulder-blades.

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