To call the delusional man would be to do him a favour. Boris Johnson hasn’t gone mad. It’s far worse than that. He’s worked out that feigning madness is all he’s got left. At this point in the narrative, Captain Blackadder put two pencils up his nostrils and declared “wibble”. Within 20 minutes, he was dead.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, he came out fighting in a style that best resembled some kind of mad contemporary dance. The usual chorus of jabbering, finger pointing, rotating and wobbling doesn’t quite fly without the backing singers. The silence behind him was the killer.
Keir Starmer did his best, but he has slapped this particular cow’s ass with a banjo many, many times before. He knows it’s not going to be him that brings this sorry show to an end.
The most brutal body blow was dealt by a 2019 intake backbencher called Gary Sambrook. It felt like he broke some kind of sacred omerta, by revealing what Johnson had personally told him and others in the members’ tea room. That Johnson had sought to pin the blame for what Chris Pincher had done on the “seven other MPs” who were there, who failed to stop him getting drunk and doing his latest abysmal deed.
This, for Mr Sambrook, got to the heart of it. To always blame others, to not take responsibility. To deflect. And that is why he should now resign.
Labor and the SNP applauded. It was a dim manoeuvre, not least as Johnson responded by pointing his finger at him, yet again, and going on about “the real reason they want me gone”. And this is the point. Of course they want him gone. They’re the opposition, but they’re not the problem. The problem is that his own side of him, very clearly now, also wants him gone.
The quotes have piled up, though none have put it better than Virginia Crosbie, who has now resigned from her lofty role as third in command at the Wales Office. She told Johnson that all of her achievements de ella in office, which are not small: “Continue to be overshadowed by the simple calculation I believe the country has made – that you cannot be trusted to tell the truth.”
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And that is the inescapable heart of the matter. Sajid Javid rose at the end of PMQs to say much the same, albeit less succinctly. Johnson stared in to the middle distance while he was told: “There are only so many times you can press the reset button. There’s only so many times you can turn that machine on and off before you realize something is fundamentally wrong.”
Johnson scurried off at the end in a desperate hurry. People will obsess over the nitty gritty but it is not some great constitutional question. His party has very clearly had enough of him and that will spell the end of the matter in a very short space of time, whatever their rules might currently state.
The endpoint is already past. He leaves behind Brexit that he didn’t actually get done, he just lied about it, and a party – and a country – profoundly damaged by having been allowed to have been touched by him, as everything that he goes near always, always is .
He knows it’s over. It’s just a question of when he might find the courage to stop pretending.