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Is it ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ now for Boris?

By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Of all the crisis and controversies the prime minister has been embroiled in recently, could it be an immature slur against the Leader of the Opposition that finally brings his time in Downing Street to a close? Frank McKenna asks ‘Is it ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ now for Johnson?

The prime minister and his government have been caught up in so many controversies since the tail-end of last year that it is hard to keep up.

Indeed, someone who can be described as ‘sympathetic’ to Boris offered the notion that ‘Party-gate’ was a useful distraction, given some of the other issues that are challenging the PM and his colleagues at present.

In no particular order, an investigation by the Metropolitan Police into breaches of Covid rules in Downing Street during lockdown restrictions, an apology to the Queen, the disastrous handling of the Owen Patterson affair, and the subsequent by-election defeat suffered by the Tories, wallpaper-gate, the energy price hike, rising inflation, interest rate rises, and an underwhelming ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper, are among the crisis that Johnson has been, or continues to be, embroiled in.

But it is the resignation of his policy adviser Munira Mirza yesterday, which may prove to be the straw that breaks the camels back. Leaving after 14-years in his employ, a top Conservative said of her departure: “She was Boris’ brain and longest serving adviser. For her to depart and in such a publicly critical way is simply devastating for Boris. It sends a strong signal to the Tory Party that even those closest to the PM have lost faith.”   

And why did she walk away from her boss of 14-years? Because of the Jimmy Saville slur Johnson made against the Leader of the Opposition earlier this week – apparently very much against her advice.

Before her resignation, it appeared that the PM would live to fight another week. Now MPs will be heading home to their constituencies for the weekend wondering if they can put up with anymore.

Given the list of serious controversies and challenges I have mentioned, wouldn’t it be ironic if, after his years of campaigning and conniving, ducking, and diving to be ‘the king of the world’ Johnson’s end came because of a petulant lie aimed at Keir Starmer. Ironic – but in so many ways – very fitting.   

A Very senior Conservative, not a Boris fan, told me last year, “He (Boris) has always got a mistake in him. He won’t serve a full-term of parliament (as PM).” A schoolboy error, his Saville remark, was beyond immature, and could be the thing that loses him his dream job.

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