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Bye bye Bojo ... ?

He could yet limp on, for a while. The list of potential distractions is as long as attention spans tend to be short. But the phalanx of frightened Conservative MP’s determined not to follow him into oblivion could bring him down any time. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, the next few days could mark the final, decisive twist.

Though Margaret Thatcher had her solid core of ideological Thatcherites, it wasn’t enough to save her when she became tainted goods.

Johnson doesn’t even have that to fall back on. The party gambled on him simply because he looked like a winner. And the gamble paid off.

But the eighty-strong majority of just two years ago is now well and truly trashed.

A YouGov poll on Friday put Labour eleven points ahead. Significant because it came after his, er, sort of, apology for whooping it up with the lads.

Also significant because nearly twice as many people as usual were minded to switch directly from Tory to Labour.

Little wonder the opposition leader’s finally came out with it, demanding, in no uncertain terms, the PM’s resignation.

That of course could help trigger Tories’ instinctive urge to rally round the flag, though it is possible that’s what Sir Keir Starmer was hoping for.

He would after all far rather fight the next election against a Tory leader who’s holed below the waterline than a spangly new kid on the block like Dishy Rishi.

The Chancellor, who’s furlough scheme has earned him lots of brownie points, is the bookies’ favourite to step into the breach.

And there can be little doubt he’s been on manoeuvres in recent days. Barely bothering to say Bojo’s not such a bad chap after all.

Whitehall’s sleazebuster-in-chief Sue Gray may well decide otherwise in a few days.

It’s thought unlikely she’ll actually tie the noose round his neck, but it is likely she’ll bang a few more nails into his already overburdened coffin.

Word is she’s not one to take prisoners. During David Cameron’s time in office she was the one effectively running the show.

And she’s far from the identikit Sir Humphrey. For a while, taking time out from the civil service, she ran a pub with her country and western singer husband.

The hostelry in question was in Northern Ireland, not far from the border with the republic, in an area still known as ‘bandit country’.

Right now, Westminster must feel to her like home from home then, given Friday’s new revelations in the Telegraph.

Seems Downing Street hosted not one but two booze-ups the night before The Queen had to sit on her tod at her late husband’s funeral.

This was because indoor socialising was verboten. Everywhere except, apparently, in Bojo’s gaff.

Witnesses say one of his special advisers acted as disc jockey, and a partygoer went out with a suitcase to stock up on drinks.

A works gathering? Must have been.

Downing Street’s apologised to Buck House about it, for what that’s worth. The tally of parties that shouldn’t have taken place was fourteen by Friday.

And it’s become increasingly clear there was a culture of knees up whenever and wherever it suited those who were telling the rest of us what not to do.

But Her Madge at least has got her ducks in a row. Stripping her son of all his fancy titles to protect the good name of ‘the firm’.

Thanks to the fast disappearing obstacles to Andrew facing the wrath of the law for, allegedly, getting up to no good with a minor, he’s on his own now.

The Sun headline neatly summarised his situation. ‘Throne Out.’ And there’s a parallel to be drawn between his situation and Boris Johnson’s.

It’d only take fifty-four Conservative MP’s handing in letters to the guy who heads the committee they’re all members of to begin the regicide process.

The total of those who’ve gone public on doing so is still in single figures, though it’s suggested the true figure’s probably nearer thirty.

Left-leaning newspapers are obviously baying for his blood, but some on the right are joining in. Sunday Telegraph Editor Allister Heath is particularly blunt.

‘The Tory party is incandescent at the way Johnson has thrown his vast majority away, and rightly so.

‘Almost nobody now believes Johnson will lead the Tories into the next general election.

‘Even his Omicron triumph, and the possibility that he may soon jettison Plan B, won’t be enough to save him.’

Heath’s far from glowing commentary on Johnson is a mirror image of The Queen’s attitude to Andrew. Individuals are dispensable, the brand isn’t.

But his reference to an omicron triumph appears, ironically, to be founded in fact.

According to former top World Health Organisation boffin David Heymann, we’re closer to exiting the pandemic than anywhere else in the northern hemisphere.

Bizarrely, we’ve been helped by an affliction we Brits know all too well.

Researchers at Imperial College have found high levels of memory T-cells people have picked up from the common cold have protected many people from Covid.

Maybe the singer/songwriter Paddy Roberts wasn’t even joking with his wonderful old song ‘The Englishman with his usual bloody cold’.

More seriously, the scientists’ discovery may pave the way to creating a new generation of vaccines that’d fight all new variants.

Meantime, relying on the jab to do the job has clearly paid off. Though still high, case numbers last week fell by nearly a third.

And Matthew Taylor, head of the NHS Confederation of hospital bosses, is optimistic.

‘Unless things change unexpectedly, we are close to the national peak of Covid patients in hospital. This is a significant moment.’

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is similarly cheery. ‘It does feel like sunshine is edging through the clouds,’ he wrote in his weekly email.

‘There is a general sense that we are past the peak and the NHS will just about get through it,’ he added.

A view shared by Richard Cree, an intensive care consultant at a hospital in Middlesbrough, who had predicted the NHS would be overwhelmed.

‘I’m all too happy to be proved wrong,’ he said. ‘It’s looking increasingly likely that we may be able to ride out the Omicron wave after all.’

And Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia said the question now was how quickly the wave would recede.

‘Once cases have fallen well below the 100,000 mark … that should hopefully make it a lot easier to ease up on the remaining restrictions,’ he said.

Indeed they already are, as people who’ve tested positive for Covid will now only have to shut themselves away for five days instead of seven.

Not that things have panned out that well for Serbian tennis ace Novak ‘no-vac’ Djokovic.

The Aussies banged him up again while legal wrangling continues over whether he can play there even though he’s unvaccinated.

His critics say he’s a rat for even thinking he can get away with it, though it may be rattist to use that word in a derogatory sense.

Belgian charity workers were last week mourning the passing of Magawa, an African giant pouched rat whose courage earned him a decoration.

He was so good at at sniffing out landmines he got the PDSA Gold Medal, the animal equivalent of the George Cross, awarded to military folk for heroism.

During his career in Cambodia he sniffed out more than a hundred lethal explosive devices, making safe the equivalent of thirty-one football pitches.

No wonder they called him HeroRAT. Least they could do.

Peter Spencer has 40 years' experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.


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