We're biding our time, hoping the same fate awaits our Clown-in-Chief.
This was just the final humiliation in a day full of them. There are shitshows and there are shitshows. But the afternoon’s was something else. If there have been worse performances from a prime minister at the dispatch box in the last five years, no one could remember them. Much more of this and letters will be piling up in the 1922 Committee demanding the return of Theresa May. This was the day Boris Johnson was stripped bare. Exposed as the Great Pretender. A mere carapace of vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other.
Johnson had come to the Commons to give a statement on the G7 summit; he left half-broken, his reputation in tatters. Long before the end of his 90-minute appearance, most of his Tory MPs had left. Even those who clung to their careers enough to vote with him later in the day would now do so only under sufferance as it dawned on them just how badly they had been mis-sold. The PPI claims hotline for duff prime ministers would soon be in meltdown.
They had been promised a new Churchill. Instead they had an amoral chancer who was planning to deselect Churchill’s grandson for doing what he himself had done on two occasions just months previously. They had been promised a Clown Prince. Someone who could charm both the party and country. They had been landed with a music-hall act who was long past his sell-by date. An amateur stand-up who would be booed off stage within seconds at the Edinburgh Fringe.
“We are on the verge of taking back control,” Johnson began. Just as Tory MP, Phillip Lee, rose from the Tory benches and crossed the floor of the house to join the Lib Dems. In that moment the Tories had lost their majority. Taking back control now looked rather like losing it completely. The crown had just got even more hollow.
Boris tried to make light of it. To carry on making a few weak gags that drew no laughter. To treat the occasion as if it was just another night out at the Oxford Union. But slowly it dawned on him that the Age of Entitlement had passed. He just wasn’t up to the job he’d always believed to be his birthright.
Being prime minister required more than arrogance and bullshit. More than a quick read of Game Theory for Dommies. It involved both clarity of thought and responsibility. Neither of which had ever been his strong suit. He mumbled and bumbled, waving his arms at random. Even his own front bench looked embarrassed when he started accusing the opposition and Tory rebels of being collaborators.
It went further downhill for Johnson when Jeremy Corbyn, who is rapidly looking more and more statesmanlike just by not being Boris, and MPs from all sides of the house cut through the waffle and demanded real answers. Even Philip Hammond, a man who had displayed no personality as chancellor, now looked like a beacon of charisma in comparison to Johnson.
Why was he being dishonest about the real reason for the lengthy prorogation? If he was making such good progress towards getting a deal, how come he couldn’t provide any details? Why wouldn’t he reveal the risks of a no-deal Brexit? And would his government be bound by the rule of law? Johnson only had more bluster.
Forget the noises from the EU who were insisting that the UK had come up with no new proposals. He had loads of cunning plans. There was a meeting of the Alternative Arrangements Committee in Dundalk next week to which two lorry drivers and a badger were coming. He was operating in a world of four-dimensional chess that only he and Dom and Dommer could understand. Trust me.
No one did. His one known talent is for lying. Even when he eventually whispered something about being bound by the rule of law, no one believed him. Because just minutes earlier he had insisted that there were no circumstances under which he would extend Article 50 beyond 31 October. Something has to give and Johnson hasn’t a clue what.
Desperation is etched deep into his face. Every day a scramble to do or say anything to maintain his hold on power. Power that was visibly ebbing away the longer he was on his feet. He appeared almost grateful when the Speaker put him out of his misery. At this rate he could yet be the UK’s shortest serving prime minister. Something to tell Carrie and the dog.