What are the Prime Minister’s Tory opponents up to? Last week the revelations of riotous parties in No 10 seemed to have hardly moved the dial as far as Boris Johnson’s future was concerned.
He used to be a member of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University. It was a drinking/dining club for toffs and was notorious for trashing restaurants and pubs. The Sue Gray report revealed that members of the Prime Minister’s staff abused the cleaning staff who had to clear up the mess after their parties. The thread of decadent entitlement runs from Bullingdon to Downing Street. The Prime Minister’s presence at a number of those gatherings gave licence to such behaviour, even if Johnson only got one fine.
And yet in the immediate aftermath, the tired mantra that the government must move on to the cost of living and Ukraine was trotted out and it seemed that most Conservative MPs were prepared to live with a leader who is a disgrace to his office.
So how do we explain this week where on a daily basis ones and twos of Conservative MPs are calling on Johnson to go? It is to be hoped that over last weekend they reflected on their supine position, talked to their constituents, and have launched a strategy to undermine the Prime Minister. Standards Czar Lord Geidt’s intervention may spur them on. They may have decided this can most effectively be done by a few moving against him every day to show that this Premiership is going to be incapable of conducting business as usual because partygate will always be there.
We mustn’t get our hopes up too much. Nobody knows how close we are to the fifty four needed to trigger a no confidence vote. Even if one took place, there are 150 odd MPs on the government “pay roll”. Theresa May and John Major have survived in the past.
That said there are two more hurdles for Johnson. The Wakefield and Tiverton by elections and the inquiry into whether the PM knowingly mislead parliament over partygate, although I wouldn’t hold your breath on the latter.
WELL DONE YOUR MAJESTY
Thank heavens for the integrity of the Queen. Let us praise her this weekend for her seventy years of service. Indeed, it is longer than that. She became heir to the throne in December 1936 and made her first broadcast to evacuated children in 1940.
I can just remember putting up a shield with flags in it for the coronation in 1953 (I still have it, although it is in a battered state). It is my first memory really and makes one reflect on the Queen’s extraordinary longevity.
Support for our Head of State being a hereditary monarch remains high. Republicanism has been a minority sport since Oliver Cromwell died. Opinions may change when Charles the Third comes to the throne. There will be questions about the future of the Commonwealth and the place of the Church of England.
But for now, let us raise a glass to the Queen, who’s first Prime Minister was Winston Churchill in an age of deference. A Queen who has seen us enter and leave the EU, give up an empire and undergo a fundamental change in social attitudes.
Well done your Majesty