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The end of the affair

UPDATE 9.30am BST, 7/7/2022 ‘Boris Johnson to stand down as Tory leader after wave of resignations’ – BBC.

UPDATE 7.30pm BST, 6/7/22: Et tu, Brute? ‘Boris Johnson latest: Nadhim Zahawi leads cabinet call for PM to go’, the Times reports. Zahawi was given the job of Chancellor by Boris a little over twenty-four hours ago. This is better than Game of Thrones. Oops, my bad, the Times headline changed a few seconds after I posted the link. Now it says Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has “joined her cabinet colleagues Grant Shapps, Nadhim Zahawi, Michael Gove and Simon Hart in calling for his resignation.”

UPDATE 7pm BST, 5/7/22: The Tory MP who spoke to Tom Swarbrick of “the final hours and days of this Government” was not kidding. The Wikipedia entries for Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid are changing minute by minute.

Original post from this morning follows:

‘Downing Street claim Boris forgot about FCDO investigation into Pincher’ – Guido Fawkes:

This afternoon’s press briefing has just wrapped up, having started over half an hour late. It was a disaster. The briefing opened with a question for the ages: “Are you planning on telling truth today?”. Downing Street spokesperson Max Blain responded with “in short, yes…”

The new line from No.10, it seems, is that Boris simply “forgot” about the upheld claims against Pincher from 2019 when the scandal first broke last week, only to miraculously remember at some point in the last 24 hours – when, exactly, is not clear. When pressed to confirm if that was true, Blain insisted it was “broadly” correct. Either way, it doesn’t appear he told Deputy PM Dominic Raab about this sudden recollection before sending him out onto the media round this morning…

LBC radio presenter Tom Swarbrick says, ‘A Tory MP gets in touch: “We are eeking out the final hours and days of this Government. We aren’t talking about weeks or months”’. Speaking as someone who misspelled “siege” as “seige” in a post title a couple of days ago, I am in no position to get snippy (when did that ever stop me?), but the present participle of the verb “to eke out” is “eking out” not “eeking out”. Never mind. The only possible comment is “EEEEEK!!!”

Is it Sir Keir Starmer’s hour to shine then? Maybe not. Also from Guido: ‘In the last month the implied probability of Keir Starmer resigning as Labour leader this year has risen from under 10% to over 30% as gamblers increasingly believe the Durham Police investigation could go badly for Starmer.’

If Starmer quits the political stage, he will do so having done something that makes the prospect of a Labour government a lot more palatable for many: ‘Starmer ends Labour silence on Brexit as he rules out rejoining single market’, the Guardian reports. Does he make this commitment to respect the result of the referendum out of principle? Of course not – he has ratted twice, once when he said, “The referendum is clear and has to be accepted. We can’t have a re-run of the question which was put to the country”, then jumped on the People’s Vote bandwagon as soon as it became temporarily popular, and again when, as Diane Abbott correctly observed, he dropped every single one of the 10 pledges he made in 2020 to get elected [Labour] leader. The pledges were insane, but even so, his abandoning his previous promises with such ease causes me to doubt any future ones he might make.

What times!

What next?

UPDATE: What next? This! Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resign as Boris Johnson apologises for Chris Pincher ‘mistake’ – from the Guardian‘s “UK politics live” thread.

(I put updates covering later developments at the top of this post.)

40 comments to The end of the affair

  • djm

    Super Injunction & Starmer

    Apparently never seen together in the same place……

  • Lee Moore

    A promise not to rejoin the single market is ….. worthless. It would take British and EU apparatchiks about twenty minutes to draft a series of anodyne protocols to the Withdrawal Agreement that would bind the UK hand and foot, tighter than actually being in the EU. And they would of course not involve rejoining the single market. Oh no, indeed. Natalie’s piece the other day touching on homeschooling showed the complete contempt which the apparat has for the public.

    Y’all will recall Tony Blair’s promise of a referendum on the EU Constitution, followed, post election, by signing up to the Not-the-EU-Constitution – identical but for a couple of commas, but marketed as merely a series of amendments – without a referendum.

    And Honest Dave making the same promise in 2005, and then whoopsie, by 2010 it was too late, water under the bridge, sorry. He had to be dragged back into making a new promise by The Farage.

    The shocking thing is that Boris lying about parties and about groping politicos is treated as a scandal, while politicos shamelessly lying for the apparat on genuinely important matters, are just par for the course.

  • Mr Ed

    One can only wait in perplexed anticipation for the reaction from the YT channel History Debunked to the resignations of Messrs. Sunk and Javid. If only the PM were to do something unconventional and make the Sage of Kettering his new Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Life Peer, there is no legal reason why he could not.

    The plot is obviously to force out Mr Johnson, but if Johnson is Plan A, what on Earth could Plan B be?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thank you, Natalie, for making me aware of this. Were it not for you, i would not have looked at the BBC News before the morning.

  • Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have resigned

    So phuqing what? Political pygmies that fancied their chances at No. 10 and in the end blew it in pathetic and miserable ways.

    Sure, we can pontificate about “The Great Offices of State”, but these weren’t “Great Beasts” but placeholders.

    The Remoaners remain, plotting treachery at every turn, anything to seize back the ship of state and their past glory through the illusury magic of “Rejoin!”.

    If only they didn’t hate each other quite so much, their only unifying factor being their hatred of BoJo, BRExit and the plebs that voted for it.

    The idea that Jeremy Cnut will lead them to victory is not just laughable, it’s a Christmas Panto in the making.

    The greased porker continues to run rings around those who would cook him. While he can still command a majority in parliament and avoid the 1922…he lives. If he feels truly threatened he need only call an election.

    …and the plebs love their bread and circuses.

  • James Strong

    I disagree with John Galt’s analysis. It’s not a Remainer plot to get rid of Boris. Yes, some Remainers want him out, but so do some Brexiteers. People are fed up with the dishonesty that flows from Boris with such fluency. He has been rumbled. And he has failed to inroduce effective policies to deal with our problems.

    As for calling a General Election – it’s very likely that he couldn’t do that. The party he currently leads has a majority of 70 or so. The problem is specifically with Johnson; it is perfectly feasible that another leader could command a majority in the House of Commons as it is made up now. And it is probable that the men in grey suits would communicate that to the staff in the Palace, leading to the Queen refusing a disolution.

  • Mr Ed

    JS

    leading to the Queen refusing a disolution.

    The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 is still in force, so the Queen has nothing to do with any decision on the dissolution of Parliament. It requires either two-thirds of MPs to concur, or a motion of no confidence in the government to be passed by the House of Commons without it being countered by a confidence motion passing within 14 days.

    So Mr Alexander Johnson might be in the absurd position of his own MPs refusing him a General Election whilst maintaining that they have confidence in him.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Mr Ed, I thought the FTPA had been ended.

    I found this gov.uk press release from 24th March 2022:

    Tried and tested system for calling elections restored
    The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill has today received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen.

    The democratic way elections have been called for generations has been restored, with tried-and-tested arrangements preventing stalemates in Parliament from paralysing democracy.

    The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill has today received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen.

    This important legislation delivers on the government’s manifesto pledge to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which brought about chaos and constitutional deadlock in 2019, restoring clear and flexible constitutional arrangements that served successive Governments and Parliaments well for generations.

  • Natalie beat me to it – the fixed term parliament act is indeed gone. (And high time! My displeasure at the slowness with which the current government implements the policies on which it was elected would be greater still if that also had been still unachieved.) I tracked it carefully until well through last year when it seemed to have cleared the usual hurdles and be safely into the home straight. I’m a bit shocked it was not fully completed before March 22nd, but it seemed clear well before 2021 ended that it was no longer realistically vulnerable to being derailed.

  • I disagree with John Galt’s analysis. It’s not a Remainer plot to get rid of Boris. Yes, some Remainers want him out, but so do some Brexiteers. People are fed up with the dishonesty that flows from Boris with such fluency. He has been rumbled. And he has failed to inroduce effective policies to deal with our problems.

    You misunderstand. The resignation and Remoaner plotting are two separate things, driven by different agendas, but both undermine BoJo and the current government.

  • Lee Moore

    Boris’s fecklessness is alarming – if hardly a surprise. But the fact that the Tory Party manifestly has no one else to offer, who would not immediately sell us even further down the river is more alarming yet.

    Once upon a time the Tory backbenches were peopled by simple country squires and military men, who provided a bit of “bottom” amidst the jostle of advertising men and chancers. Now they seem to have nothing but advertising men and chancers.

    Lower than vermin, indeed. But Labour, the LibDems and the SNP somehow contrive to be lower yet. What comes below vermin ?

  • Lower than vermin, indeed. But Labour, the LibDems and the SNP somehow contrive to be lower yet. What comes below vermin ?

    The rat flea perhaps, carrier of such manifest horrors as bubonic plague. Sounds about right when talking about the demented porridge wogs of the SNP.

  • Unless Boris is replaced with a Brexiteer who doesn’t subscribe to the NetZero insanity, none of this will make any real difference

  • Deep Lurker

    Lee Moore:

    Natalie’s piece the other day touching on homeschooling showed the complete contempt which the apparat has for the public.

    I’m blind; I can’t find it. Can you give me a link to that “piece the other day” of Natalie’s?

  • Rudolph Hucker

    @Lee Moore
    Natalie’s piece the other day touching on homeschooling showed the complete contempt which the apparat has for the public.

    Serendipity in motion: Here’s a relevant article from the excellent Dr. Robert W Malone, on how the apparat and “administrative state” subverts democracy and ignores accountability.

    What to do with a Problem like HHS? (Pt. 1)
    Unwinding entrenched administrative state agencies is hard, time consuming work

    https://rwmalonemd.substack.com/p/what-to-do-with-a-problem-like-hhs?utm_source=email

  • Unless Boris is replaced with a Brexiteer who doesn’t subscribe to the NetZero insanity, none of this will make any real difference

    Basically, yes.

    BRExit needs to be finished with no backsliding (NI Protocol thrown out), EU laws need to be dumped full stop with substitution only for stuff that has genuine majority support, not the convenience of bureaucrats, the benefit of the deep state or virtue signalling to the EU.

    Neto Zero needs to go along with all the other Warble Gloaming nonsense and especially the tax regimes. If people want to put in solar panels or wind turbines they are free to do so at their own expense (as many, including myself, have done).

  • David

    demented porridge wogs#

    Thank you John Galt. That’s a keeper

  • Paul Marks

    There seems to be no discussion of policy.

    No one has suggested that the lockdown was a terrible blunder (let alone the savage attack on basic Civil Liberties that it was), no one is pledging to get of the Northern Ireland “Protocol” or otherwise really establish real INDEPENDENCE from the European Union (as has been pointed out so many times – using the meaningless word “Brexit” was a terrible mistake).

    And no one is talking about reducing government spending and regulations – let alone the Credit Money monetary and financial system.

    But then the United Kingdom is dependent on that system – we buy food, raw materials, and manufactured goods, and we “pay” for these things with little more than lights on a computer screen (most “money” is not even token notes and coins now – it is just lights on a computer screen), this absurd fraud will inevitably collapse – and then life will get very hard indeed.

  • Lee Moore

    Deep Lurker : “I’m blind; I can’t find it. Can you give me a link to that “piece the other day” of Natalie’s?”

    No, you’re not blind. My mental filing system is just a bit ramshackle. I stumbled upon the piece below, from somewhere, and for some reason mentally filed it under “Natalie” :

    https://www.educationotherwise.org/education-otherwise-response-to-barness-barran/

    If you bother to follow the link, you should click the link and read the full letter.

    PS this is a “Tory” government allowing the apparat to take control of homeschooling, and force the refugees from the state system back behind the wires.

  • bobby b

    It all looks like lingchi from here.

    No real central scandal – more like, everyone’s angry at him for something different, and so he dies from the thousands of small cuts.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Unless Boris is replaced with a Brexiteer who doesn’t subscribe to the NetZero insanity, none of this will make any real difference

    That would be excellent (although one could add more items, eg active opposition to wokeness); but am i wrong in thinking that somebody who does not subscribe to NetZero must be exceptionally good at making his/her case, to stand a chance at winning an election in the UK?

  • WPH

    I’m genuinely starting to wonder if what’s driving Boris’s fanatical determination to chain himself to the mast is actually driven by money. Cummings made it clear that he was obsessed about his income, more than policy, when he was in No 10. Not only would he be taking a major pay cut going back to the back benches, but his previous sinecures are now probably closed to him. I don’t think the Telegraph is going to be offering £250k for 2 columns a week again, and previous donors aren’t going to be lining up to pay for refurbishing an ex-PM’s flat.

    Maybe the solution is for the 1922 committee to canvas the richer end of the donor pool for a whip-round, and basically say “there’s a cheque for £2m if you just fuck off now…”, because he’s starting to look like an existential threat to the future of the party.

  • No real central scandal – more like, everyone’s angry at him for something different, and so he dies from the thousands of small cuts.

    Yes, that was my assessment.

    The Remoaners will forever hate him for BRExit and that will never end. The Leavers are irritated that he’s failed to show any courage over the Northern Ireland protocol or legislative bonfire of EU regulations post-BRExit or really exploit the benefits of our new found independence.

    Between the sides, worthless wet toerags like former Health Secretary James Cnut see personal opportunity to exploit and phuq the country and still others want to make revolution eternal by taking over the 1922 Committee because they are currently blocked from ousting BoJo for another year via the 1922.

    Meanwhile the greased pig runs and squeals.

    “demented porridge wogs# Thank you John Galt. That’s a keeper

    In fairness, not mine. Stolen from Tim Worstall’s blog and the full line is “the demented porridge wogs of the SNP”. Far too many decent Scots to tar everybody with the SNP brush and it does reflect a certain “hard of thinking” aspect of the SNP mindset.

    Since I live in Perth, Scotland It gets frequent use.

  • Mr Ed

    Natalie,

    My apologies, I stand corrected. I checked on the legislation website and I missed that I was looking at the ‘original’ version, not the repealed version. I missed the fact of it being repealed, having heard the chatter about it.

    In mitigation M’Lud, I See a Prime Minister with a majority of around 80 who has sat back and let the Left run the country without doing anything of note to restore the nation, and in fact has brought it to financial and political ruin.

  • David Wallace

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    July 6, 2022 at 10:40 am
    Unless Boris is replaced with a Brexiteer who doesn’t subscribe to the NetZero insanity, none of this will make any real difference

    Aye, there’s the rub. For all the PM’s many faults, despite the endless disappointments, the incompetence, the visionlessness, the lack of any sense of Conservatism, enduring the shameless pandering to people that hate us and will never vote Conservative, Boris Johnston retained my good will – simply for fear of who will replace him. My guess is whoever the next leader is, in policy areas:
    Ukraine – change for the worse
    EU- change substantially for the worse
    Net Zero – no change
    Next election prospects – marginal change for the worse
    Lockdown induced economic mess – possibly a slight change for the better. Or worse. Who knows with this lot?
    Culture war – continue losing.

    Right. Settled. Entirely persuasive. The PM has my unwavering support. 100%. Definitely. Three cheers for Boris!

    Aaarrrgh.

  • Mr Ed

    This evening, there are probably bookies taking bets on whether Johnson will last longer than a British player in Wimbledon.

  • Alex

    On my evening perambulation with the dog, I discerned the local populace’s views to be broadly similar to those outlined by David Wallace above, essentially “better the devil you know”. I was somewhat surprised, actually, given the media onslaught.

  • Paul Marks

    I remember listening to Mr Zahawi give a talk on education – how he was going to defeat the Frankfurt School Marxists (the “Woke”) in the education system.

    Perhaps he was being sincere – it would nice to think so. He certainly understood the problem.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . the endless disappointments, the incompetence, the visionlessness, the lack of any sense of Conservatism, enduring the shameless pandering to people that hate us and will never vote Conservative . . . .”

    Help out a poor ignorant furriner. I know what it takes (or is supposed to take) to discard a leader here in the US. Looking for a sense of the difference in badness over there.

    What’s his most odious offense? And I don’t mean partisan issues, like What The Hell Kind Of Conservative Leader Is He?! kind of stuff, but real offenses against morals/laws/tradition? Can’t be that “he went to parties!” stuff. Too trite. If we canned every leader who said “for you, not for me” to laws, we’d be . . . libertarian, I guess. And we’re not.

  • bobby b

    As an addendum to my last – it strikes me that y’all are being played by the long-game anti-Brexit people.

  • bobby b

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    July 6, 2022 at 10:40 am

    “Unless Boris is replaced with a Brexiteer who doesn’t subscribe to the NetZero insanity, none of this will make any real difference.”

    What if he’s replaced with an anti-Brexit personage? Difference?

  • Lee Moore

    If he is replaced by an anti Brexit personage, Brexit will be reversed. In substance but not in name.

    ie the UK will sign up to obey the EU on everything, and contribute mightily to EU coffers, only it will be called the Ukraine Refugee Support Protocol

  • bobby b

    Ah. Like now.

  • Gove Sacked. Ha!

    Michael can’t win for losing.

  • bobby b (July 6, 2022 at 11:58 pm), well, IIUC (and I may well not), there was this Tory MP with the unfortunately apt name of Pincher who got very drunk at a party recently, and then very gay and handsy. When he sobered up and was shown evidence of his boorish behaviour, he resigned his post – to which he had been appointed in February by Boris during a reshuffle.

    Boris told Parliament he did not know of Pincher’s proclivities when appointing him a deputy chief whip (which, it could be argued, was an unfortunate title in the circumstances). After getting a public reminder that he had been briefed on an earlier incident reported about the man when he (Boris) was foreign secretary a few years back, Boris said that he had forgotten but now remembered. This admission was, IIRC, two or three days ago.

    A certain scepticism swiftly emerged as regards whether Boris’ memory, not his honesty, had been at fault in the matter. Events cascaded from there. Boris stated today he will leave No 10 before the Tory party conference in Autumn.

    In his Churchill biography, Boris’ tells a story about Prime Minister Churchill (his political hero) and an unnamed minister. The man’s fellow Tory ministers were constantly stumbling over this guy having gay sex during meeting breaks or (just) out of hours, etc., and all too used to having to leave the room (or close the broom cupboard door) and make a loud remark about ‘reconvening soon’, etc. Finally, an aide broke it to Churchill, on a freezing cold February morning in the early 1950s, that the guy had been caught in circumstances where the story was completely unkillable. Boris describes the scene thus.

    Churchill: ‘With a guardsman?”

    Aide: “Yes, sir.”

    Churchill: ‘On a park bench?”

    Aide: “Yes, sir.”

    Churchill: ‘Right outside Westminster?”

    Aide: “Yes, sir.”

    Churchill: ‘At three in the morning? !”

    Aide: “Yes, sir.”

    Churchill: ‘IN THIS WEATHER? !!”

    Aide: “Yes, sir.”

    (Pause)

    Churchill: ‘My God it makes you proud to be British!”

    So it may be that Boris was having his Churchillian moment – albeit not quite in the sense we here had hoped.

  • Lee Moore

    After getting a public reminder that he had been briefed on an earlier incident reported about the man when he (Boris) was foreign secretary a few years back, Boris said that he had forgotten but now remembered. This admission was, IIRC, two or three days ago.

    I had not appreciated that the briefing was when Boris was Foreign Secretary, which he stopped being four years ago. I had assumed the briefing was this year, when he appointed the guy a whip.

    That puts a slightly different complexion on it. Thee are several thousand things I’d rather the PM was able to remember from four years ago, ahead of which Tory MPs were gropers, which were drunks, which were sneaks to the media, and which were carrying on with a constituent’s wife. Or horse.

    But I suppose in the Westminster world, where knowing about all your fellow MPs skeletons is more important than knowing whether France is to the left of Germany, or to the right, no one could believe he had forgotten.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Some thoughts from me:

    I am saddened that Boris Johnson’s administration has ended this way, but not surprised. His personal failings, such as inability to run and manage a team, meant that he was unable/unwilling to push forward on a handful of areas where a government can make headway. As a result, the “Whitehall Blob” was able to stand in his way. He had no talent for strategy and process. It sounds deadly dull and management-speak, but it is important. Dominic Cummings is an overrated character, who seemed to alienate people unnecessarily. He was a technocrat, not an original thinker. Even so, he gave a certain sense of drive to Johnson. Once Cummings left in the lockdown kerfuffle, things began to unravel.

    I read the conspiracy theory sort of charge that the media and much of the political class who wanted the UK to stay in the EU were determined to destroy him, so angry were they that the UK has had the cheek to leave the tender cares of the EU. There’s some truth to this, of course. He achieved an excellent 2019 General Election result, and was also fortunate to be up against an extreme Leftist and anti-semitic guttersnipe such as Jeremy Corbyn. And he also got a tailwind from cultural realignments of political loyalties, with voters in the Midlands and North, for example, turning against Labour decisively. But from then on the fizzle went out of Boris. Yes, he signed a treaty to take the UK out of the EU, but work needed to be done on the Northern Ireland border, and if necessary, we should have threatened to abandon the deal. The EU did not think we would do so, and the likes of Barnier in the EU and Macron in France have weaponised the Northern Ireland border issue shamelessly. Johnson never quite gave the impression he was prepared to push back hard enough.

    And then there was covid. Unlike some, I don’t give him a hard time for the first lockdown, but the cronyism about medical contracts, the “save the NHS” sentimentalism, the failure to stress that furloughs were very temporary, was a mistake. As was the failure to do a proper costed analysis of lockdowns, and be honest, quickly, with the public about the costs. There were results on the vaccines, but even then, and without following the anti-vaxxers on this, I thought too much stress was put on these, rather than a range of treatments. (Johnson also, like far too many other leaders, gave China an easy ride on what caused this clusterfuck.)

    Then there was the whole “Green transition”, build back better, Great Reset BS, at a time when the likely spike in inflation/energy costs could have been predicted. Then there were the tax hikes to pay for unreformed public services. No real attempts to move against the BBC licence fee, or recalibrate our universities and reduce an obsession with sending every student with a pulse to university. And finally, no concerted attempt to use the freedoms we regained outside of the European Union and its customs union to slash tariffs, repeal legislation, and put sunset clauses into any new laws.

    There was a lot to do after the GE in 2019, and it would have taxed the skills of the most effective of Prime Ministers. Boris is a colourful character, whom I have met a few times, and like personally. It is also worth noting that some of the dislike seems to be borne of a priggish dislike of someone who seems to have had a gilded life, and I find that rather unworthy.

    But the charge sheet against Mr Johnson is a long one. I fear that things are not going to improve for some time to come.

  • Once Cummings left in the lockdown kerfuffle, things began to unravel. (Johnathan Pearce, July 7, 2022 at 5:12 pm)

    Although I agree Boris needed someone like Cummings and Cummings had some good ideas and experience, I also recall (IIRC – by all means correct me if I do not recall correctly) that the stated issue of their parting was that Boris was less keen on lockdowns than Cummings. They both fell for that, but I can hardly blame Boris for falling for it less than Cummings.

    Meanwhile, it is reported that a poll of Tory party members shows the joint candidacy of “None of the above” and “Don’t know” is by far the most popular. If you separate them then “None of the above” is a percentage point behind Ben Wallace but tied with Penny Mordant and ahead of everyone else. “Don’t Know” comes fifth, one percentage point behind Rishi.

    It’s early days and this info is from the BBC, so treat with caution.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    July 7, 2022 at 9:55 am

    “After getting a public reminder that he had been briefed on an earlier incident reported about the man when he (Boris) was foreign secretary a few years back, Boris said that he had forgotten but now remembered.”

    Wow. So BJ got Me Too’ed from years back, plus was demonized by his own people for a lack of conservatism and made to resign without there being some more conservative replacement waiting in the wings?

    Again, ignorant furriner here, but doesn’t this scream Own Goal?

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