In London’s City Hall and in a slimmed-down Foreign Office, it was just possible to contain the damage. In Downing Street we may not be so lucky.
Imagine the scene. Standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street in the late summer downpour is the new prime minister, fresh from his triumphant seizure of the Conservative leadership. Thrusting his head forward in the bull-like stance once favoured by his hero Winston Churchill, Boris Johnson lifts his arm to wave to the news cameras. “Where’s Carrie?” a journalist shouts out, referring to the surprising absence of Johnson’s glossy young partner. It is not the only question that goes unanswered that day, or the weeks that follow. After the razzmatazz of the Johnson leadership campaign, little in the way of plans, let alone policies, have emerged from the uber-secretive new regime, even though the deadline to leave the EU on 31 October is now just three months away.
After a fortnight of promising to work “flat out” on finding a solution to the Brexit impasse, Johnson disappears on holiday abroad leaving chaos behind him. His premiership has already triggered a rash of official resignations and sackings, leading to the departure of most of those who dared speak truth unto power as well as virtually anyone senior who knew how the EU works and how to negotiate with it. Some of his cabinet places also remain unfilled after scandals involving a number of his more hardline appointments. Relations with Ireland dip even further after an imperialist “joke” falls flat, and the EU is hardening its position, spurred on by several European leaders’ visceral dislike of the new British PM. Johnson’s promised tax cuts for the well-off have yet to be funded, the economy is contracting and the markets are jittery with the pound in freefall.
Johnson’s exhortations to “just believe in Britain” — and a base-pleasing edict that fruit and veg are now only to be sold in pounds and ounces — are no longer having the desired effect, even with the reheating of some of his oldest and favourite jokes. His critics are dubbing him the “do-nothing” PM and even the Brexiteers are getting twitchy. And now there are rumours that, when parliament returns, Prime Minister’s Questions may be curtailed and press conferences cancelled. Could all this be possible?
Yes, even probable. At the time of writing, Johnson remains the favourite for the job. What possible revelation could derail his march to Downing Street, given that he has already been found repeatedly guilty of lying, cheating, disloyalty, laziness, indiscretion, incompetence and callous disregard for others, without any apparent ill-effect? MPs, who once spat blood at his very name, now line up to endorse his candidature. Perhaps they believe that only Johnson can magically save them from death by Brexit Party, but there have also been serious suggestions, albeit denied, of Team Johnson playing dirty, using private information against normally sensible moderates to extract their support.
If a Johnson premiership is almost inevitable after his …read more
Source:: New Statesman