Is Johnson really gone?

On his return from a summer break, Jim examines the real possibility of Boris Johnson attempting a comeback.

Jim Hancock

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Since 1900 only three Prime Ministers have returned to office. Stanley Baldwin did it three times during the volatile inter war period. Winston Churchill, having been sensationally booted out after winning the Second World War, returned in 1951. Harold Wilson retained the leadership of the Labour Party after his defeat by Ted Heath in 1970 and returned four years later.

Usually, Prime Ministers removed by the voters or their party, know their time is up. They have enough humility and self-awareness to go gracefully. So, what happens when a bombastic, unprincipled man with a massive ego is kicked out?

Boris Johnson is a bitter man. His reference to “the herd” in his resignation speech in Downing Street not only shows his contempt for his backbenchers but also sent out a warning that this man is going to be trouble for the next Prime Minister.

Just like Donald Trump didn’t accept the election result in America, Johnson is showing no sign that he accepts he has disgraced the office and must accept he will never walk through the door of Number 10 again.

There are further worrying similarities with Trump and Johnson. In America, the Attorney General has bags of evidence that the former President was involved in attempts to subvert the transition of power to Joe Biden. He is agonising about taking action because of the political rage that will come from the Republican right. They fear court proceedings could stop him running for President in 2024.

Here we have a similar attempt to prevent justice taking its course. The Daily Mail has launched a full-scale campaign to disband a Commons committee that is looking into claims that Johnson knowingly mislead parliament over the partygate affair. The integrity of committee members, including four Conservatives, have been called into question. So far, they have resisted. Well done Andy Carter (Con Warrington South) and his colleagues. Do not be bullied and do your job. If it ends up with a successful recall petition by the voters of Uxbridge, so be it.

The Mail is claiming thousands of Tory Party members and some MPs are regretting their decision to remove Johnson and want him to be on standby if Truss (likely) or Sunak (sadly unlikely) screw up.

Heaven knows why. Of course, there are external forces that Johnson is not responsible for, but he is leaving the country in an awful state. Scandalously Johnson hasn’t insisted on himself, Sunak and Truss agreeing a plan to save millions from energy poverty this winter. People and business have endured weeks of worry while we wait for the Tories to stop picking holes in each other.

There are waves of strikes, people can’t see a GP or get an ambulance, illegal migrants pour across the channel to a nation that voted to destroy our ties with the EU to “take back control.” What a joke.

Despite this we must take seriously that Johnson will make trouble on the lucrative lecture circuit. He’s even rumoured to be planning to attend the Tory Party conference. Has he no shame or consideration for his party?

Next Monday we will have a new Prime Minister, rarely will they have inherited such a difficult legacy from the worst Prime Minister in history.

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