Boris Johnson is finally is leaving 10 Downing Street after 3 turbulent bizarre years.
Given the chaos, that he orchestrated Boris’ tenure as British prime minister seemed more like 5 years. Yet Boris should not have even lasted 3 months.
In the end Boris’ downfall was over his poor handling of assault allegations against his colleague Chris Pincher which upset some senior members of the Conservative Party.
But no one can be surprised by Boris’ misleading reaction of the Pincher incident(s) given that when he was first appointed prime minister in 2019 Boris ended an investigation into Tory MP Mark Field’s manhandling of a female Greenpeace activist.
- “Boris Johnson drops investigation into MP who manhandled protester says inquiry into Mark Field’s conduct was a matter for the previous PM” Guardian, 2019
Boris is the worst UK prime minister in my life time. I drew the same conclusion of his predecessor Theresa May in 2019. But we all knew a PM Boris surpass May given his disastrous time as foreign secretary.
His supporters championed Boris as the man that got Brexit done yet the way he went about was conniving and sticking two fingers at the constitution. Actions that should have had Boris removed from office.
- 50 of Boris Johnson’s scandals – Daily Record
- Scandal after scandal: timeline of Tory sleaze under Boris Johnson – The Guardian
If Jeremy Corbyn had done 1/1000th of the bad practices that Boris committed or enabled then the former Labour Party leader would have been stripped of his nationality.
One of the British right wing media’s regular smears against then-leader Corbyn was that he previously had links a former Eastern European spy network.
Yet last week at parliament’s liaison committee meeting Boris languidly informed his inquisitors that when he was foreign minister (2016-2018), he had met up with a KGB spy/Russian oligarch, Alexander Lebedev, in Italy without any of his aides in attendance.
No wonder one of Boris’ advisors sitting behind him at the committee hearing slipped him a note to “shush”.
Boris – Self Centred
All Boris cared about was winning big elections and being centre stage. Cheerleading over detail.
Boris was Donald Trump before Donald Trump in the political arena. What does that say about British politics?
The minute he first became MP in 2001 Boris Johnson was already a popular figure in media land you just knew this new MP gig was a stepping stone to becoming prime minister. He smartly used his larger than life persona in the media to carve out a modern-day Terry Thomas-type character.
Johnson’s many friends and close acquaintances in the media all did their role to position Boris first as mayor of London and some covered up for his incompetence and lazy stewardship of both the foreign office and Downing Street.
But the PM version of Boris revealed incompetence that was so overwhelming that his supporters in the media and government just ran out of plasters to prop up his endless controversies.
It was funny to observe some of Boris allies in the media being apoplectic over his fall from grace.
Boris has received praise for his support of Ukraine in their war with Russian. Yet even then the PR bliss of Boris was at hand.
When Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) visited Ukraine on the 8th April I turned to a friend and said Boris will be in the Ukraine then next day (which he did). Knowing Boris-the-PR he would have been livid that of all people that someone from the EU had beaten him to a visit there.
Boris the Diverse
Credit to Boris for bringing in a diverse cabinet where people of all shades held some of the big offices of government.
Despite this achievement of a very diverse cabinet issues such as the Rwandan policy and the continued delays of Windrush compensation payments left a bitter taste in many including some current Tory MPs.
Now who will that next leader be?
Of the Tory names being banded-about I will narrow the strong contenders down to these names: Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Tom Tugenhat, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and – who I think will win – Penny Mordaunt.
- Rishi Sunak (former Chancellor of the Exchequer) seems the clear favourite. He’s enjoyed the highest profile so far. But history tell us that former chancellors rarely become prime minister or if they do, are effective in the role. The Boris camp feel a sense of betrayal from Sunak and the hard BREXIT/tax cutting wing of the party will go all in to clip his chances.
- Nadhim Zahawi is facing some heat for turning on Boris a day after being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. No surprise to see media stories over the weekend about Zahawi’s businesses –
- Revealed: officials raised ‘flag’ over Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs before he was appointed chancellor (which he denies).
- Sajid Javid is interesting given he contested the previous leadership race. But you have to wonder if he & Sunak have done a deal if only one of them gets into the final 2.
- Tom Tugendhat came to public prominence last year after a moving speech in parliament over the bungled US-led evacuation of Afghanistan. Effective on the back benches and in the committee rooms and is a clean break from the other candidates who have served in ministerial roles under Boris. If he loses with a decent number of votes then could be the next foreign secretary.
- Kemi Badenoch effective and has taken on the left head-on over equality issues much to the delight of the Tory right. One of the clearest Thatcherites in the race.
- The colourful Grant Shapps is an excellent communicator. A long shot.
At the start of the year, I wrote that Penny Mordaunt was the person to watch this year in British politics as I could not see Boris the PM surviving the whole OF 2022. Then again I thought she would have jumped into previous leadership races going back to 2016.
I know Trevor Kavanaugh, the influential former Sun political editor, has played down Mordaunt’s chances but I disagree. If Mordaunt is in the final 2 and it goes to a vote amongst the Tory members then her chances would be strong given her journey.
Mordaunt brought back a degree of calm to the International Development portfolio after it was left in tatters by her predecessor Priti Patel.
What is also in Mordaunt’s favour is that she was a strong Vote Leave (from EU) long before even Boris was ever one. Mordaunt has been one of the few Tory ministers to constantly wipe the floor of her opponents across the dispatch box in parliament.
After being appointed defence secretary by (outgoing prime minister) Theresa May in 2019, Mordaunt was sacked months later by new PM Boris not of any incompetence but out of fear and some revenge. The last thing Boris wanted at the time was a smart street fighting Tory female politician who could outshine him.
But that sacking and eventual postings to junior ministerial roles did Mordaunt a favour as she was not close to the carnage of the cabinet.
But that launch video from Mordaunt was a blunder, so 1980s and unnecessary. Some of Mordaunt’s backers has stated – with a str8 face – that she is the one to unite the country. No candidate can unite the Tory Party much less the country. Unless they exclude Scotland.
Interestingly, Mordaunt’s current boss at the trade ministry – Anne-Marie Trevelyan – is backing Tugenhat.
As for Jeremy Hunt you get the sense that his time has come and went.
I’ll let others write about the slim chances of Suella Braverman and Liz Truss although the latter has been positioning herself for the role for quite some time.
The Tory leadership race can be brutal for contenders. Just a couple of slip ups by any candidate and they’re history.
I would narrow the final 4 down to Tugenhat, Sunak, Truss and Mordaunt then its:
Sunak vs Mordaunt
What Next for Boris?
Boris intends to stay on until the next Tory leader is chosen, shredders are doing overtime in Downing Street – visitor logs gone!
If Boris decided to stay on as MP then revenge against his former cabinet colleagues is guaranteed.
Boris will get his own guest radio show either on LBC or the Rupert Murdoch speech radio platforms. Will be in demand on the US & UK chat shows.
Given chaos in the Tory Party the Labour Party should have been double digits ahead in the opinion polls today.
If Mordaunt wins then Labour leader Keir Starmer will have a big problem at the dispatch box.
But a PM Mordaunt will have to watch her back from the plots from her own side.
So bye Boris for now. Thanks for the birthday present.