Let’s get a couple of things out of the way to start with. Boris Johnson’s quick action in vaccinating the country against Covid saved thousands of lives. His robust support for Ukraine has been first class. Apart from that his political career has been a disgrace. Some want to give him credit for being a rare politician who actually delivered on a promise, to get Brexit done. I do not include that for two reasons. Firstly, his opportunistic support for Leave tilted the balance into us making one of the worst decisions this country has ever made. Secondly it isn’t done and never can be. We can’t be completely free from our near neighbours, particularly the Irish Republic.
I was in the Press Gallery of the House of Commons on Wednesday for the last Johnson Prime Minister’s Questions before he announced he was resigning. His delusional bluster reminded me of Donald Trump’s behaviour following his defeat in America in 2020. For a moment on Wednesday night, it looked as if this pompous man was going to embarrass the Queen by a refusal to go. The two men have much in common. One, at least, won’t be coming back.
Johnson was unable to rouse the stony-faced Tory backbenchers as he tried to get off the issue of Pinchergate. It allowed Sir Keir Starmer (more on his fate later) to have one of his finest hours. After he had graphically outlined the nature of the assault on one of Chris Pincher’s victims, he tore into the hapless PM. However his main target were the ministers and MPs who’d supported Johnson till the end. They were “sinking ships fleeing the rat.” Those replacing them were “the charge of the lightweight brigade, a Z list cast of nodding dogs.”
Normally such attacks would have had Tory backbenchers in uproar. Instead, I witnessed silence.
After a night of farce when Johnson fired Michael Gove and the Education Secretary for a day, Michelle Donelan resigned, Johnson finally realised the game was up and we are left to contemplate his disgraceful career.
It began when he used to file reports for the Daily Telegraph from Brussels which were a pack of lies designed to mock and discredit the European Commission.
My first encounter with him was in 2004 when he was sent to Liverpool by, then Tory leader Michael Howard to apologise for saying the city was “hooked on grief” over Hillsborough.
He squandered a rare Tory victory in Labour dominated London when he was Mayor. His terms in office were dominated by photo opportunities rather than solid improvements.
Then we come to the infamous moment in February 2016 when he had the case for Remain and Leave on his desk. For career reasons he chose Leave and the rest is history.
As Foreign Secretary he began the damage to our international reputation and having hounded Theresa May from office, his premiership has seen a debasement of the office of Prime Minister in a series of lies and scandals
DANGER FOR SIR KEIR
The political drama may not be over. Whilst I was at Westminster, I heard strong rumours that the Durham police will fine the leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party. We could have both parties running leadership contests at the same time.