If, or more hopefully, when, the national embarrassment that is Boris Johnson is removed as Prime Minister due to ‘Partygate’ or ‘Wallpapergate’ or any of the other personal calamity gates he has driven a coach and horses or blundered blindly through, I’ll remember a nice and quite posh lunch I had in the Weald of Kent the other day.
Tucking into my splendid calamari and then perfectly cooked skate, I could hear the very loud and often very heated discussion going on at a neighbouring table… and there was no question whose political entrails were on the menu for the three Tory toffs of a certain age sitting there letting the restaurant know all too well what they thought.
One of the three (male) may well once upon a time have been a judge. The other two (females) possibly legal types too. But all three – highly educated, monied and politically aware – were as one. Boris Johnson’s actions over and his handling of Partygate, together with all his other odious transgressions both as a PM and as a person, were utterly beyond the Pale and it was high-time the Conservative Party ‘got rid’.
Here indeed was the Tory party ‘at lunch’ – literally. Packing their way through some seriously nice nosh and eating the character, reputation and record of the UK’s catastrophic Prime Minister alive.
One could only imagine the same, deeply uncomfortable (if entertaining) conversation tearing the PM apart being repeated at that very moment in eating establishments up and down the land. And if these three apparent pillars of the grassroots Tory vote were this vocal about wishing their Leader gone (if not his wallpaper, as that would leave some nasty yet expensive gaps on the walls of 10 Downing Street), then thousands upon thousands of die-hard Conservative voters across the nation must be saying the same and possibly more.
At the moment, Johnson’s fate is held in the hands of Tory MPs at Parliament. It is only they who can turf him out and bring in a new PM. So far, no-one knows which way the MPs’ thumbs will swing – up for the blonde humiliation to continue, or down to cut Bojo’s political head off. It seems many are waiting for the very convenient and, well, perfectly-timed Met investigation into Partygate to reach some sort of conclusion – who knows when? Will Godot have finally arrived?– before they lift or swing the sword.
But, by the evidence of my very blue-rinsed lunch-time neighbours, a huge number of Conservative voters, many no doubt happy, former Johnson supporters, have marked the PMs card once and for all and just like my wonderful skate…. he’s cooked.
The eternally sorry Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, whose public favourability has been plummeting almost as fast as the Prime Minister’s, has now resigned from office following a vote of no confidence by London's Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Dame Dick has been a lame duck for a long time following a series of Met failures and her inability to respond in ways that could generate consistent public confidence, let alone Sadiq’s.
We can all hope for a replacement that can reignite that confidence and lead a force that will police the Capital in ways that truly reflect the diversity of its population.
But then there’s Partygate. How will the police investigations into parties at Number 10 and Boris Johnson’s own role in them, be affected by Cressida Dick’s departure?
And is her fall somehow part of the overall plan to save Johnson’s skin as the tsunami of party leaks and whistle-blowing continues?
Johnson seems doomed but my mind keeps returning to his words in Parliament when the Met’s inquiry was announced. He welcomed it, he said, and he was sure it would ‘draw a line’ under the affair.
That sounded like he already knew he would survive any police findings – good or bad, fine or no fine. It sounded like he and Dick had been in cahoots.
What will happen now? Only time – and possibly a few more media leaks about boozy parties - may tell.
Photo: Spitting Image