The resignations of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid after Johnson was caught out in yet another barefaced lie brings the phrase rats deserting a sinking ship to mind, although in this case twats deserting a sinking shit is probably a more accurate description.
Neither Sunak nor Javid deserve any praise for suddenly having discovered a sense of propriety. Both were more than happy to serve in Johnson’s government for many months even though they knew all about his lies, deceit, and dishonesty. They supported Johnson when he broke the law, they supported him when he told lie after lie. They supported him when he deceived the head of state in order to prorogue Parliament unlawfully. They supported Johnson when he broke international law and trashed the Northern Irish protocol and international obligations on the treatment of asylum seekers. They even supported Johnson when he insisted that his pal with links to the Kremlin should get a peerage, despite the fact that the security services had advised against it. Both of them have been complicit in Johnson’s trashing the standards expected in public office. They are as bad as he is. He is their creature.
They had no problems with Johnson’s damaging and dangerous behaviour and his manifest unsuitability for the office he holds when they thought that he was their ticket to power and influence. They didn’t have a problem when Johnson lied to everyone else but when it’s them that he lied to, all of a sudden they discover how outrageous it is that the Prime Minister lies. The Pincher scandal is merely the latest in a long line of scandals in a government drowning in a sea of sleaze. Even the most obtuse Tory MP realises by now that all that Johnson learned from his previous escapes from scandal is that he will be allowed to get away with it. He is not “chastened”, he is not “repentant” and he is certainly not about to mend his ways.
The Conservative resignations now have nothing to do with what most of us would regard as honesty, integrity, and accountability, and everything to do with their fears that Johnson is now a vote loser. At what point over the next day or two will Johnson and his dwindling band of remaining supporters ask us all to ‘move on’ from the Pincher scandal? It is always the same sorry pattern – first comes the denials, then the story changes slightly, then he gets caught in his lie, then he blames someone else or gives one of his performative apologies and claims that it’s a misunderstanding, then he asks us all to move on.
After the resignations were announced, some Conservative MPs such as Andrew Murrison, Tory MP for South West Wiltshire and a former junior minister, were predicting on Channel Four news that more resignations would follow. We are now in a full scale crisis of government. Johnson will not go quietly, he will have to be dragged out of Downing Street kicking and screaming and will not care what damage he does to the institutions of the British state or the Conservative party in the process. The Tories put him in office in full knowledge of his malignant narcissism, it’s only karma that they are now being destroyed by it. Therese Coffey, Wil Quince and Dominic Raab were deliberately and completely, humiliated by Johnson in yet another desperate attempt to save his own skin, and they deserved it.
The programme hadn’t even finished when uber-Johnson loyalist Jonathan Gullis and Tory party vice-chair Bim Afolami announced their resignations too. You know it’s bad when even Jonathan Gullis can see the writing on the wall, he’s demonstrated time and time again that he’s unable to read the room, which is why he was always trotted out for the cameras to defend Johnson’s egregious wrongdoing.
Other minor government figures submitted their resignations as the evening went on. The number of amoral Tories prepared to defend Johnson is diminishing rapidly. Other more significant resignations are likely to follow tomorrow. Meanwhile Carrie is greeting about her bespoke wallpaper and wondering which Tory donor can be hit up for the refurbishment of the Johnsons’ retirement home, and Theresa May has got the Abba music on and is chilling the champagne. Johnson is rapidly running out of options to fill the posts left vacant by the resignations. But don’t worry, Nadine Dorries, Priti Patel, Jacob Rees Mogg and Dominic Raab are all staying, so Johnson still has plenty of amoral careerists to do his lying bidding.
Allegedly Nadine Dorries tried to submit a letter of resignation, but accidentally sent off for an incontinence aids catalogue instead. Some commentators had predicted that Nadhim Zahawi would also have resigned, but it seems that he was experiencing difficulty locating a spine. Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Suella Braverman and Jacob Rees Mogg won’t be resigning because they are political no-hopers who only owe their current prominence to their loyalty to Johnson. Talking of no-hopers, Alister Jack announced that he would not be resigning because he knows that without Boris Johnson he’d be even more of a non-entity than he already is. He’d have as much power and influence as [gasp] Douglas Ross, the man described by Dominic Cummings as the Conservative party’s Mr Nobody, a fate signifying political death.
Although Johnson was once described by David Cameron as a greased piglet for his ability to wriggle free from a tight squeeze, and Cameron certainly knows a lot about pigs, this really does feel like the crisis that will finally bring Johnson down, that’s despite the fact that Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to assure Channel Four news that it was just a little local difficulty and nothing to get excited about. It’s not over yet, but Johnson will not go willingly, no matter how many resignations he’s hit with.
In the meantime keep an eye out for Michael Gove, he’s gone suspiciously quiet and appears to have gone missing. They were going to put his face on a milk carton but it turns the milk instantly sour. Thoughts and prayers to poor Michael and his bizarre range of physical and verbal tics at this very conflicted time for him.
This is the Conservative party which insists that this is not the time for a Scottish independence referendum because governments should be focused on tackling the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine. Yet this Conservative regime is all-consumed by its own internal party politics, all that matters to the Conservatives is ensuring that their party retains its grubby and sleazy grasp on power. They care as much as Johnson does about the damage that they wreak in the process. It’s time for Scotland to escape this shit show.
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