Why the party’s over for Boris Johnson as trust implodes over Downing Street sleaze scandals – Tom Richmond

TWO years after Boris Johnson’s landslide election win, the party appears to be over for a prime minister who governs by bluster, obfuscation and lies.

The party's over...Boris Johnson appears to have lost the confidence of the Tory party two years after his election win.
The party's over...Boris Johnson appears to have lost the confidence of the Tory party two years after his election win.

Not just his misleading denials over last year’s Christmas party / parties in Downing Street, and the funding of his flat refurbishment, but his moral authority to continue as Prime Minister.

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This became clear when the leaked video of Johnson’s then-spokesperson Allegra Stratton laughing at a mock press conference, where that party just happened to be discussed, was broadcast by ITV.

The party's over...Boris Johnson appears to have lost the confidence of the Tory party two years after his election win.

First Dewsbury’s Sayeeda Warsi, a former Tory co-chair, said all those present at the party – including any Ministers – should “resign now”.

“The rule of law is a fundamental value, the glue that hold us together as a nation. Once that is trashed by those in power, the very essence of our democracy is at stake,” she posted.

And then Warsi’s fellow peer Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Tories, weighed in after Johnson failed to defend the indefensible at a Prime Minister’s Questions where he was humiliated by his own party’s 
near-silence.

“Today’s ‘we’ll investigate what we’ve spent a week saying didn’t happen and discipline staff for rules we continue to say weren’t broken’ was pathetic,” she said.

The party's over...Boris Johnson appears to have lost the confidence of the Tory party two years after his election win.

Yet, while Warsi and Davidson would, in normal circumstances, be dismissed by the Tory high command as serial Johnson critics, the same cannot be said of those Tory backbenchers who later turned on the Government.

As Johnson delivered his press conference on Wednesday evening – ironically in the room where Stratton and her had cohorts mocked the country – Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid was facing fury from Tory backbenchers in the Commons as he announced new Covid restrictions in a bid to stem the Omicron variant.

First Greg Clark, a mild-mannered former Business Secretary, accused Javid of jumping the gun, a view shared by Esther McVey, another ex-Cabinet minister. Brexit opponents, Covid appears to have united them.

Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis, a former Brexit Secretary, added: “Where is the evidence that vaccine passports actually work?”

Then Shipley MP Philip Davies asked Javid: “Will he give me any reason at all why I should not tell my constituents to treat these new rules in exactly the same way that No. 10 Downing Street treated last year’s rules?”

And then, perhaps most damning of all, came Mark Harper who linked the party shenanigans with the Government’s mishandling of the Owen Paterson lobbying and sleaze scandal that will culminate with a by-election in North Shropshire next Thursday.

He followed this up on social media for good measure, adding: “From the Paterson case to the Christmas parties…the credibility of those at the very top has been seriously damaged.”

Just who could he mean? Withering words, they’re even more damaging because Mark Harper was Tory chief whip from May 2015 to June 2016 when he was in charge of party discipline and loyalty.

Until relatively recently, the question had been if Johnson would be forced out of office before the next election. With his party in mutiny, and showing similar behavioural characteristics that ultimately destroyed Theresa May’s premiership, it’s now a case of when the Tories ditch Boris Johnson whose skills as a campaigner can no longer mask his myriad failings as a prime minister.

UNLIKE Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup who did face the wrath of BBC Question Time viewers over the now infamous Downing Street Christmas party, it was cowardly of her boss Sajid Javid to duck his media obligations on Wednesday.

As Health and Social Care Secretary, he should have conducted interviews to mark the first anniversary of Margaret Keenan becoming the first person in the world to receive the Covid vaccine.

And as a supposed statesman who previously stood for the Tory leadership, and who still aspires to be Prime Minister, he should have been prepared to be questioned about the ITV video depicting Downing Street staffers effectively laughing at the country over that party rather than taking the decision to stay off the airwaves. Javid would have gone up in the public’s estimation if he had taken the opportunity to say that the Government had got it totally wrong.

A BEDRAGGLED Boris Johnson looked like he was auditioning for TV’s Line Of Duty when he witnessed an early hours police raid on Monday to illustrate and promote the Government’s new drugs strategy. Yet why was Merseyside chosen for the backdrop when the PM resides in London – and when his wife Carrie Symonds was days away from giving birth to their second child?

I’d venture that Johnson was hoping for favourable coverage ahead of the aforementioned by-election in North Shropshire, a ruse that has gone awry.

WHAT hope for the country when Ashfield MP Lee Anderson used Wednesday’s debate on rail investment to accuse Labour’s Ian Lavery of “stealing” £165,000 from miners.

Taken to task by Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans, Anderson replied: “Yes, the debate with the hon. Member for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery) did get a little bit heated. I apologise if I called him a thief but, just for the record, I am not a scab.”

Have they learned nothing from the murder of Jo Cox five years ago – or the more recent death, in equally horrific circumstances, of Sir David Amess? Clearly not. I despair.

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