This piece was kindly published by The Bruges Group
Well that escalated quickly. I have felt for a long time and said for a while that the Conservative & Unionist Party is now misnomered. Even I am staggered by the depths now being plumbed.
The globalist, green, high tax, high spend, manifesto breaking agenda is not conservatism. It is now a CONINO party (Conservative in Name Only). Jeremy Corbyn must be laughing into his gruel.
Partygate (or should that be Partiesgate?) has demolished any residual moral authority held by Boris Johnson. The principle of ruling by consent has been utterly ignored and the 80 seat majority, the largest since Margaret Thatcher is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Comparisons with the Iron Lady are wholly inappropriate. Mrs Thatcher’s moral compass was unimpeachable. Draw your own conclusions on Mr Johnson’s.
Johnson was battered at PMQs and his announcement that the Cabinet Secretary will be undertaking an “internal enquiry” into the events of 18th December 2020 did nothing to assuage the opposition and his backbenchers’ silence spoke volumes. Whether or not members of the press were complicit is irrelevant: they are not in government.
The crocodile tears of Allegra Stratton and her inevitable resignation were the bare minimum she should offer, given her relations with the Johnsons and the wider Conservative party but it does nothing to stop the inevitable “same old Tories, same old lies” campaign that Labour will run in 2022, alongside the already alive and kicking, “one rule for them, one rule for us”.
Johnson’s platitudes to Stratton were tin eared at best and wholly inappropriate given the increased restrictions announced, much to the chagrin of libertarians who will cite the lack of deaths globally from Omicron to date, despite its higher rate of transmissibility.
To complete a throughly miserable day, the reversion to plan B with widening of face mask wearing, defaulting to work from home and compulsory vaccine passports for everything from indoor events over 500 people through to outdoor crowds over 10,000, this Prime Minister who judges his own success through the prism of short term popularity should expect enduring disappointment for some time to come.
The prospect of mandatory vaccinations for the whole population, would almost certainly be the straw to break this particular camel’s back.
Theresa May has been waspish throughout Boris’ premiership but her comments on the unsustainability of going in and out of restrictions with every new COVID-19 variant landed, not least on the Tory backbenches.
Abandoning the pensions triple lock and increasing National Insurance broke manifesto commitments were not easy on the eye.
The return of restrictions on our civil liberties in the face of wanton hypocrisy inside 10 Downing Street dating back to Dominic Cummings and Barnard Castle will make the public think twice about why they should bother to uphold the law when (so called) Special Advisers at the heart of government don’t even pay it lip service.
Conflating the need to review the parliamentary standards appeals process with (at least) tacit support for Owen Paterson was an own goal.
Boris’ performance at the CBI conference was chaotic and he was unable to make light of it as he would have done in his time as Mayor of London.
November was awful for the Tories but December is usurping it already. Behind in the polls, with abject leadership, don’t rule out the possibility of letters going in to Sir Graham Brady (if they haven’t already started) to demand a leadership challenge.
I do not expect Boris Johnson to see out a full parliamentary term as Prime Minister. He looks beleaguered, short on confidence and like he’d rather be off earning the big money elsewhere.
Boris deserves plaudits for (sort of) getting Brexit done despite failing to Take Back Control, particularly of our borders. His best appears to be behind him and it is not a huge stretch to suggest that if he is unwilling or unable to rediscover his capacity to engage with the electorate and carry them with him, the grey suits will soon be making him an offer he cannot refuse.
The Conservative & Unionist Party has a history of ruthlessness in moving on Prime Ministers to retain power. There are undoubtedly cabinet ministers who are itching to run for the top job. They may get their chance much sooner than they or the mainstream media expect.
© justchrisdavies 2021
Chris Davies is on Twitter @justchrisdavies