Boris Johnson Death Watch

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Although UK readers are likely suffering from Boris-Johnson-on-the-ropes overload, forgive me for attempting to step back and give context for readers in other parts of the world. Feel free to correct any errors or omissions.

The short version is that after two senior Cabinet ministers, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resigned (letters here and here), four Parliamentary Private secretaries plus the deputy party chair and trade envoy for Morocco followed.

Despite these blows, a YouGov snap poll shows that even though 69% of British voters and 54% of Tories, think Johnson should go, only 21% of respondents believe Johnson will resign soon. A quick look at Twitter confirms that the mainstream press is broadcasting these results. See also:

Recall that Boris Johnson swept into office, first based on democratically dubious vote of a small number of paying Tory party members, but then seemingly confirmed by a landslide win in the 2019 contest, with the Tories winning by the biggest margin since 1987, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. More careful analysts pointed out that the Labour popular vote result was not terrible in historical terms, and Labour lost votes much more to other parties than the Tories. But it didn’t matter much whether the great performance of the SNP was important in breaching the famed Labour “red wall”. Johnson, riding the wave of Brexit dominating the news and Labour’s voter-alienating ambivalence (compounded by effective smearing of Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite).

However, even though voters chose their MP and not their Prime Minister, it was still clear that Tory voters would be getting Johnson. And Johnson was a known quantity, in not a good way: an aristocratic, charming liar with no interest or acumen in governing.1 In the old days when the UK had a strong civil service, Johnson could conceivably had a successful-seeming time in office, with the experts preventing at least some of the worst outcomes of bad policies. But Johnson and his unimpressive ministers have had little in the way of private sanity checks.

Johnson has been a dead man walking since he was badly bloodied in a June 7 vote of no confidence, with the immediate trigger the “Partygate” scandal. Even though Johnson on paper looked to score a solid win, at 211 v. 148, the reality is that the Prime Minister is assured the 100+ votes of MPs serving in government (and getting stipends). Anyone in Government who opposes the Prime Minister should resign and only then cast a no-confidence vote. So Johnson got less than half the votes of the backbenchers. Prime Ministers who’ve gotten similarly low votes have not lasted long.

The current row is the scandal over Dickensianly-named Charles Pincher. But Johnson had already taken another hit when and both seats they had held, one previously considered safe, the other snatched from Labour in 2019. It didn’t help that Johnson seemed more interested in bolstering Zelensky than fellow MPs, or that he was in Rwanda the day of the special elections.

Pincher resigned from the post of deputy chief whip on June 30 due to allegations of sexual misconduct. No. 10 claimed that Johnson had not known Pincher had faced charges of similar impropriety in 2019, at the Foreign Office. That story blew up over the weekend. From the BBC:

Following the resignation, No 10 – and a series of government ministers – initially denied that Boris Johnson was aware of specific complaints against Mr Pincher before appointing him as deputy chief whip. (No 10 is the prime minister’s office and briefs journalists on his behalf).

But Lord McDonald – a former top civil servant in the Foreign Office – accused No 10 of not telling the truth and stated that Mr Johnson was briefed “in person” about a “formal complaint” into Mr Pincher’s conduct in 2019, when Mr Pincher was a Foreign Office minister.

The government now says the prime minister was indeed briefed at the time but could not “recall this” when the latest allegations emerged last week. Mr Johnson has confirmed this and says he “bitterly regrets” not acting on the information….

By 12:30 on Monday, No 10 had changed its line. The prime minister’s official spokesperson said Mr Johnson knew of “allegations that were either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint” adding that “it was deemed not appropriate to stop an appointment simply because of unsubstantiated allegations”.

That evening, BBC political correspondent Ione Wells revealed that Boris Johnson was made aware of a formal complaint about Chris Pincher’s “inappropriate behaviour” while Mr Pincher was a Foreign Office minister from 2019-20.

The complaint led to a disciplinary process which confirmed his misconduct.

While we are keeping count:

I would rather see Johnson held to account for more destructive actions, starting with sabotaging the Ukraine-Russia peace talks in Istanbul at the end of March. But at a minimum, this mini-history shows that “toxic masculinity” is something about which Johnson knows a great deal.

The problem, as we said at the time of the June no-confidence vote, is the big reason Johnson may soldier on for a while is the replacement pickings are so poor. ConservativeHome had posted the results of its periodic poll on potential Tory leaders on July 3, so before the Javid-Sunak resignations:

ConservativeHome’s comments:

Far from licking our lips at the prospect of a leadership election, ConservativeHome hasn’t asked this question for over six months.

When we did, Liz Truss led Rishi Sunak by 20 votes – 181 to 161; 23 per cent to 20 per cent.

Since then, the Chancellor has been engulfed by the controversy about his wife’s former non-dom status and his previous possession of a U.S green card.

He is now ninth in the table on five per cent.

Ben Wallace, who wasn’t even named in the December question, comes top in this survey. He has 119 votes and is on 16 per cent.

Penny Mordaunt is second by only a sliver. She has 117 votes and is on the same percentage.

The Defence Secretary has topped our Cabinet League Table since February, so that he also leads our Next Leader Survey is perhaps unsurprising.

Mordaunt’s second place, above seven Cabinet members, is more startling.

It’s very hard for a non-Cabinet Minister to gain the profile of a Cabinet Minister – or of a prominent backbencher either, who will be free to say what he thinks.

But the Trade Minister is somehow managing a bit of both.

She makes no pretence of having backed Boris Johnson in the recent leadership ballot, operates in the Government as a semi-independent, and has a way of pushing populist buttons – on tax cuts, for example.

The Prime Minister may not be in a strong enough position to fire her, and either way she is making hay while the sun shines.

Truss is third with 14 per cent. It may be that the association of the top Cabinet members with Johnson is tarnishing their brand among some members of the panel.

On the other hand, 39 panel members have refused to answer the question.

This is a higher refusenik total than elsewhere in the survey, and these will be the Prime Ministerial loyalists – believing that there is no vacancy and that the question is premature.

Accordingly, the Times reports that Johnson has found replacements: Nadhim Zahawi as Chancellor, Steve Barclay as Health Secretary and Michelle Donelan as Education Secretary.

The knives are very much out. Johnson appeared to be trying to position Liz Truss as his successor, which is logical since she’s the most likely to make Johnson look good by comparison. But the worm may finally have turned:


Maybe I’m missing something, but Theresa May looks better than the choices on offer.


1 One of many examples. Boris and his Brexiteering allies took almost no interest in what Brexit would mean in practice, above all for traders. Had the Tories operated responsibly, they would have made considerable effort in preparing businesses for the upcoming major changes and provided them with considerable assistance, at a minimum detailed guides and help lines. But that sort of preparation would have been contrary to the “Glorious Brexit” narrative.

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  1. JohnA

    As the marie antoinette ometer for western politicians climbs to ever more giddy heights with heating prices expected to reach unaffordable levels for a large proportion of the population this coming winter due to Russian sanctions, the new finance minister claimed over £5800 in parliamentary expenses to heat the stables for his horses.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, JohnA. Please see my comment about Zahawi al Baghdadi when it comes out moderation. Expensing his hobby is the least of his offences.

    2. Stephen Masters

      This a ‘let them eat cake’ attitude. Absolutely contempt for the poor. Many pensioners spend their days riding public transport to keep warm. Claiming an amazing amount on parliamentary expenses to heat stables for horses is proof that the claimant is unfit for high office of any kind. Brexit went well didn’t it? Not.

  2. Ignacio

    Democracy is when you turn political parties into clown cars that name a clown in chief who will in turn hire McKinsey to make decisions because the clown cars cannot bother to have programs or directions except those that directly benefit the clowns themselves plus their associates and families. I just don’t care who the next Clown in Chief will be. Nothing decent can be expected.

    She will never be leader

    Leader is too much of a word to define current Chiefs of State. Even manager looks excessive for the top brass. Just guys and lads that have fun, sex, and travel a lot. Sense of responsibility? Ability to put themselves in other’s situation? Comprehension of complex issues? No, no, no.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Domenico Quirico, a good analyst of the war at panic-stricken La Stampa (don’t even get me going on the panting propaganda machine Anna Zafesova) called the first of Boris Johnson’s trips to Kiev to shore up Zelensky and wreck peace talks simply an attempt at maintaining the fiction of a British Empire. So there is a side of Boris Johnson’s “policies” that is for domestic consumption.

    One can’t get vegetables from France, but Rule Britannia!

    This, to me, is the central charge: “I would rather see Johnson held to account for more destructive actions, starting with sabotaging the Ukraine-Russia peace talks in Istanbul at the end of March.”

    But it would inconvenience the elites to admit that Johnson (and Biden and Pelosi and Pompeo and Bill&Hill) are war criminals.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its not about the British Empire. Its about the ingrained belief in the postwar British establishment that their role in the world is to be the smart, competent little brother to the rather lumbering and stupid bigger partner in the Anglosphere. They see themselves as the Principle Advisor to the dimwitted King. Interfering in the Ukraine is just the continuation of a long Anglosphere policy of meddling in European affairs to prevent any one power gaining too much influence. The British once did it entirely in their own interest, now they do it as part of a wider Atlantic Anglosphere policy of keeping the world safely under their power.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you and well said, PK.

        @ DJG: Please have a look online for Kit Klarenberg’s The Gray Zone expose of how the likes of Richard Dearlove, former MI6 official and master of a college at Cambridge, and former professional head of the armed forces, Charles Guthrie, conspired to bring about Brexit. The expose fails to mention their useful idiots in the MSM, e.g. Catherine Belton and the Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr, push the “it’s Putin wot won Brexit” line.

        1. begob

          I think they also note Dearlove’s involvement in the downfall of Theresa May, and his alignment with Priti Patel.

  4. Acacia

    “Can even Boris the Greased Piglet wriggle out of this?”

    Too bad USian media doesn’t roll with headlines like this.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Yes, the image of “the walls closing in” on Bad Orange Man doesn’t really measure up. What’s that supposed to evoke, the ending of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Pit and the Pendulum? How many people nowadays have even heard of it, let alone read it?

      1. begob

        The ketchup on the walls is closing in. Or at least proving impossible to get out with bicarb and a dash of selzer.

    2. ChrisPacific

      It does happen in US media but it’s normally limited to sports reporting.

      I thought this was another good deadpan line:

      Both are clearly hopeful of pinching the Johnson rump vote in a leadership battle. If they sniff the wind has entirely turned they’ll jump.

  5. SocalJimObjects

    I know nothing about politics in the UK, but my guess is that Boris does not necessarily want to make Liz Truss chancellor, rather the later is Uncle Sam’s hand picked successor. After all there’s this war in the East, and someone will need to provide some “continuity”.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Uncle Sam has zero say in this. They couldn’t influence the Tory party even if they tried, mostly because the Tories view the Americans as embarrassing lower class second cousins who unfortunately got stinking rich by accidentally striking oil so one has to pretend to be nice to them on social occasions.

      The last US president to understand the British establishment was FDR, and he sent a corrupt Irish American gangster as ambassador to London just to piss them off.

      1. Oh

        “…...mostly because the Tories view the Americans as embarrassing lower class second cousins who unfortunately got stinking rich by accidentally striking oil so one has to pretend to be nice to them on social occasions.”

        Well put!

        1. Michaelmas

          PK: the Tories view the Americans as embarrassing lower class second cousins who unfortunately got stinking rich by accidentally striking oil

          You say that like that’s a bad attitude and the Tories are, essentially, wrong. It seems healthier than EU elites self-eviscerating EU economies to satisfy Washington’s dictates.

          PK: one has to pretend to be nice to them on social occasions.

          Not for much longer, chum.

      2. paul

        I’d have to disagree PK, the main players just now are serious americophiles.

        The portly influence peddler, liam fox seems to spend at least as much time loading up the tories with yankee oligarch money as he does attending to his great young friend, whitty’s life opportunities.

        The british american successor project has had considerable success:

        Fondly known as BAP, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, was created in 1985 to build on the special relationship which emerged during World War II between our two countries. From small beginnings, we are now a transatlantic fellowship of over 1,000 leaders, rising stars and opinion formers who come from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political views.

        Described by some as “organised serendipity”, our network is made up of a vastly diverse range of people who have achieved distinction in their field, or are on course to do so.

        lovely link here

        1. Skippy

          I’ll second this view due to the insidiousness nature of both being primary neoliberal advocates and in PK’s opinion about FDR that its missed the occurrence by some years of the Atlantic Treaty which was the nail that let all the air out of the British Empire …. FDR bent them over a barrel …

          Sure the nobs and heraldic sorts still cling onto myths to feel good about themselves whilst grinding the poor one more turn … its only “Natural” …

  6. ChrisRUEcon

    Well, well, well …

    > The knives are very much out

    Yes, they are … and I find Zahawi’s moves the most telling here. I didn’t know who he was, but his background strikes me as rather interesting;
    • Iraqi (Kurd!)
    • Former YouGov CEO
    • Was involved in the privatisation of the Royal Mail

    … plus he’s fifth on that ConservativeHome list. Given that the top three are either shrinking from the limelight or vastly under-qualified (to put it kindly, per the “half bag of chips” tweet), his go-get-it attitude seems to stand in stark contrast. I mean, after PM, CoTE is pretty much the next big thing – it’s the purse strings! So if nothing else, in a world of ostriches, we seem to have a lion in our midst.


    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Chris.

      I forgot about the Royal Mail. The sale price was £3.30, but Lazard recommended £5. Liberal Vince Cable should be held to account for his role in that botched privatisation and corruption, including undervaluing the property portfolio, e.g. Mount Pleasant.

      1. ambrit

        Oh, so that’s why packages from Airstrip One now take so long to wend their way across the pond. (Sorry, I just delved deeper and discover that this ‘privatization’ happened in 2013.) However, the French Post Office has similar problems with package shipping. One of the vendors in France whom we deal with looked into a package that was a month overdue and states that she was told by her local postoffice counterman that the Covid has decimated their workforce.
        Stay safe! If it comes to it, retreat to the family villa in the country and write a modern Decameron.

      2. ChrisRUEcon

        Cheers Colonel.

        And thanks for the further info! From my cursory research, Zahawi was involved in the selection of Lazard, so yes, further afield as it were.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    There is something almost admirable about Johnsons pathological desire and ability to maintain power, despite his obvious unsuitability for any position of authority, in any type of organisation. He somehow manages to make even Trump look a reasonable choice to lead a major country.

    But what does this say about the state of the UK, that the entire Tory party is unable to summon up one single individual who we can say would be less corrupt and more competent than Boris Johnson, and that the existing administrative function of the civil service is unable to keep him under control? Even the combined might of the business and banking community seem unable to get their voices heard. Rentiers and power peddlers are the only sector who seem to have some influence.

    And as for Labour – how utterly useless are they as an opposition? They can neither hold the Tories to account or manage to gain a real decisive lead in the polls. They only won their by-election because voters on the ground voted strategically rather than follow what they were told. They are neither capable of coming up with real alternative politics or demonstrating a real desire to take power. At least Blair very obviously wanted power and did what was needed to grab it.

    I pity the Scots and Welsh. It is growing on them that they are unwillingly hitched to a sinking ship led by a group of officers who despise them. Yet Brexit made independence almost impossible for either of them.

    As for Johnson, it is unwise to predict his demise as he is like an unflushable turd. The only thing saving him is that even the Tories realise that they have no obvious alternative. And even if they find a vaguely competent leader, he or she will most likely have to devote all their attention to undoing Johnsons damage, which is probably beyond anyones skills.

    1. flora

      an aside: from the US, I youtube watched some Labour campaign ads and thought they looked and sounded remarkably like US Dem campaign ads. I wondered if the US Dem and UK Labour parties used the same advertising agency.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Ever since Blair, the Labour party professional wing have been obsessed with being the little brothers of the Dems, constantly shadowing their strategy. The problem is, everything they know about the US they learned from watching the West Wing.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, PK.

          Some Blairite PMC headbanger was recently tweeting about how she misses the series and refers to it for guidance. It seemed juvenile for a middle aged adult to talk publicly like that.

    2. Louis Fyne

      He made a middling MP and forgettable cabinet minister, but I’d like to see Michael Portillo come out of retirement as a regent caretaker head of the Conservatives.

      I think years of being a documentary TV presenter had given him much empathy re. the life/needs of the everyday person on High Street

      1. PlutoniumKun

        It says everything about the Tory party today that someone like Portillo, who was probably the most hated politician in the UK when he was minister (I still remember the enormous cheer that rocked my neighbourhood in Birmingham when he lost his seat in 1997), is now seen as a cultured, empathic representative of a kinder older order.

        I have no idea whether his more recent public profile is contrived PR, or that he actually did have something of a dark night of the soul after losing his seat and re-emerged a better man, but he would indeed be vastly better than any of the current crowd.

        1. Irrational

          PK, thanks for the awesome comment with which I could not agree more.
          I guess BoJo got flushed in the meantime, though.
          Let’s see what happens next.

  8. eg

    Pincher is aptly named and appears to have been operating with scant awareness of Edwin Edwards’ bromide …

    1. Stephen

      For us English people of a certain age there is definitely the aura of a “Carry On” film around this. The name “Pincher” is almost tailor made for the late, great (?) Sid James, who once played a character called “Gladstone Screwer” I recall, or Jim Dale who played “Dr Nookey”. These British scandals (think even The Profumo Affair) always seem to get a bit farcical like this.

      No doubt one day a comedy film of the Johnson era in No 10 will be made……apologies too if these names offend anyone but they were real characters in the film “Carry on Again Doctor”. Language was possibly less problematic though in 1969.

      1. Balakirev

        For us English people of a certain age there is definitely the aura of a “Carry On” film around this. The name “Pincher” is almost tailor made for the late, great (?) Sid James,…

        It won’t surprise, well, anyone that after this latest scandal appeared, the Guardian mentioned he was referred to in some quarters as “Arse Pincher.”

        On a slightly more serious note: the live BBC coverage of Johnson reports that there are now two groups of cabinet ministers at No. 10: ” loyalists who want him to stay and rebels who want him out. They are gathering in different parts of the building.”

  9. Adrian D.

    That’s an excellent summary as I see it from here in Hove (England). A slight quibble I’d have is that I think it underplays the level to which the British Establishment got behind Johnson in 2019 to defeat Corbyn. No stone was left unthrown – far beyond just the anti-semetism allegations with each (patently ludicrous) accusation championed by specific outlets – so we had antisemetism (Guardian), national security (The Times), defence (Daily Telegraph), loony-left (Daily Mail) with the BBC, ITV & Sky picking & choosing between them – or rolling them all together in the ‘what the papers say’, question or review segments.

    Hard to pick out the most eggregious examples, but the BBC led their broadcasts on the Saturday before polling day with the ‘news’ that Ben Nimmo (once of Bellingcat) had produced a report claiming that NHS documents Labour were using to show Tory plans for NHS privatisation ‘bore all the features’ of being hacked by the Russians. Of course no evidence was ever actually presented but it led the ‘flagship’ Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme in the morning and then was repeated on the hour, every hour, across every BBC radio station – music, news or otherwise.

    [As an aside these hourly news headline summaries are IMHO one of the most cynical instruments of the Beeb’s propaganda – we’ve recently had a few months of them leading with ‘Zelensky claims…’ stories.]

    From a Pro-Bozo point of view, amongst other examples the BBC failed to report on Johnson hiding in an NHS fridge, cut sounds of people laughing & booing him from broadcasts & ‘accidentally’ broadcast archive footage of him laying wreathes on Rememberance Sunday instead of the actual pictures of him quite clearly worse for wear. In another the BBC’s Political Editor wrote a long piece (and did a lot to camera) downplaying the continual allegations that Johnson might not be trustworthy – somehow she managed to ommit the fact that he’d twice been fired for lying earlier in his career.

    It really was relentless and he’d have had to bare his backside to Her Majesty to lose it.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you and well said, Adrian.

      I would just add that Change UK, the short lived group of Labour and Tory defectors, was set up and managed by two Tory consultants and funded by Tories. The two Tories co-wrote the manifesto.

      I accompanied my father and godfather / dad’s best friend, both Royal Air Force veterans and veterans of real shooting matches, to the Cenotaph in November 2019. Johnson was drunk and unkempt and laid his wreath the wrong way up. His Tory allies, including Bavarian groupie Laura von Kuenssberg, at the BBC used footage from another year to hide Johnson’s faux pas.

      1. Jeff V

        Using the wrong cenotaph footage was an accident, just like when the BBC accidentally edited a news report to make it look like striking miners had attacked the police when in fact it was the other way around.

        The BBC is independent and impartial and trusted all over the world – the BBC tell us so all the time – and if things like depicting the then-leader of the opposition in a fur hat outside the Kremlin seem to contradict that then your eyes must be deceiving you!

  10. caucus99percenter

    Hmm… what would Francis Urquhart do? More to the point for those who know how the original British version of House of Cards ends, what would Mrs. Urquhart do?

  11. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    One hopes Anonymous 2 and David chime in as they were civil servants when Thatcher was ousted.

    Further to the Tory scoundrels, one can add Boris Stanleyevich’s father. He was accused by Romsey’s Tory MP Caroline Noakes of pinching her bottom and, when doing so, saying, “Romsey does have a good seat.” Abu Boris, now a French citizen thanks to his mother, is also alleged to have ordered his children’s two nannies to work naked and had an affair with one.

    Zahawi may use his promotion as a launch pad for a leadership bid. He has interesting backers*. He was born in Baghdad to a wealthy Kurdish family** and grew up in smart west London. After university, he teamed up with Jeffrey Archer and the Kurd whose sister he was to marry to raise money for Iraqi Kurds affected by the gulf war. Archer, Broosk Saib and Zahawi are alleged to have embezzled donations. Not long after, Archer’s wife Mary was forced to resign from the board of Anglia TV after price sensitive information was given to Archer, Saib and Zahawi and they traded on that information that was not available to the public. Some years later, Zahawi co-founded polling firm YouGov with a German immigrant. At YouGov, he was accused of suppressing / minimising polls favourable to Labour, especially when Corbyn was leader. He was put on Cameron’s A list, diversity tokens to detoxify the Tories, and parachuted (like Liz Truss, Matt Hancock, Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel and Truss’s former lover Kwasi Kwarteng) into a safe seat, Shakespeare Country in his case, often to the disgust of local activists and candidates. *Zahawi is an investor in an oil company that has a concession in the occupied Golan Heights. *The company counts the Murdoch family as an investor, a rare foray outside media and entertainment for the family. **His clan often acts as proxies for the US and Israel in Kurdistan.

    Javid and Sunak are trying to salvage their reputations and may still entertain leadership ambitions. Their deplorable past should not be forgotten.

    At Chase Manhattan, Javid co-wrote a paper for the Zedillo government in the Tequila Crisis and suggested shooting demonstrators as this would show the markets that the Mexican government meant business (with its austerity reply). At Deutsche Bank a decade later, his team ripped off investors in Hong Kong, threatened to put the State Bank of India into bankruptcy proceedings (regardless of the political fall out and risk to Deutsche Bank in India) and is suspected of early Libor manipulation.

    Sunak’s TCI hedge fund greenmailed RBS into bidding for ABN AMRO in 2007 and was involved in another campaign at CSX. His next hedge fund Theleme is an investor in Moderna, other US healthcare and the Murdoch group. His manager at Goldman, Richard Sharp, was later appointed to the Bank of England, where he watered down rules on banks, the Royal Opera and the BBC.

    Truss grew up in a left wing, academic household and took part in anti-nuclear marches. At Oxford, she was a Liberal and spoke against the monarchy at one of their annual conferences in the mid-1990s. Her euroskepticism led to her not being selected as a Liberal candidate, so she joined the Tories. She became a remainer under Cameron, but has returned to her euroskeptic roots. No one really knows what she thinks, but she is an opportunist and poorly briefed.

    In summary, the UK may regret the passing of Johnson and the appointment of an equally venal, but more diligent, Tory.

    1. sinbad66

      Thanks, Colonel!

      As we say here in the US, you are seriously roasting some people and putting others on full blast!

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Sinbad.

        I forgot to mention that Sunak and Javid have interests in US healthcare and technology firms and seeking to profit from the creeping privatisation and crapification of the UK’s free at the point of delivery healthcare system.

        Starmer and his potential successor Wes Streeting and former leadership challenger Owen Smith are funded by the same US healthcare firms.

        This sort of information was provided to Corbyn and his team, but they did not want to fight fire with fire. The left needs its own Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and to enjoy, not shirk, from confrontation. Nothing else will suffice.

        1. orlbucfan

          Many thanks, Colonel. I always look for your learned comments. This American agrees with your last paragraph 1000%!

        2. JohnA

          Thanks Colonel, venality seeps from every pore in Toryland. In Sweden at the moment, it is the so-called Almedal Week, an annual event on Gotland, where politicians give speeches on topics such as the wonders of democracy. The PM Magdalena Andersson, fresh from a trip to Kiev to worship at the altar of Zelensky, and no doubt promising more millions and weapons, talked about her love of Swedish values. (No talk of the 200-year old Swedish value of neutrality, of course.) The americans are already eyeing up Gotland as their latest unsinkable aircraft carrier, Erdogan is demanding the extradition of Kurdish ‘terrorists’ but good old Maggan now says, she won’t extradite anyone on the list who has swedish citizenship. Erdogan is calling her bluff with regard to Nato membership. As the main parties are determined to push through membership ahead of the autumn general election to avoid that being an election issue with the electorate very split on the issue, it will be interesting who will blink first.

    2. caucus99percenter

      Imagine Zahawi, an ethnic Kurd, becoming PM and moving into No. 10 Downing Street — Erdogan would flip. Or at least be, harrumph, “not amused.”

      1. skk

        Boris is of course 3rd gen Turk – well Ottoman Empire – so its interesting to see how the presumed loyalties to origin/parents/grandparents fade over generation.

        Turkey celebrated incoming British prime minister Boris Johnson’s Turkish heritage on Wednesday, with politicians and media proclaiming that the “Ottoman grandson” could strengthen ties between two countries on Europe’s fringes.

        The former London mayor is the great-grandson of the Ottoman Empire’s last interior minister, Ali Kemal, and his ancestry has been a source of pride for many Turks.

    3. Mikel

      Sunak and Javid: backgrounds I fully expected. You just confirmed it.

      There is a fine line between their “resignations” and cashing out/in.

    4. Anonymous 2

      Thank you, Colonel.

      I am very busy with other issues but enjoying it all greatly. Johnson sacks Gove! One wit says Gove went in with the pistol and whisky, so Johnson used the gun on Gove and drank the whisky.

      I expect Johnson to be out within a week, maybe even tomorrow.

      But, deep down, I find it all very sad that the UK has come to this.

      1. Irrational

        Thanks for the insights, gentlemen. Very amusing, if it were not so sad (echoing Anon 2 here). I spent quite a bit of time studying and working in the UK in the 90s. It nuanced my starry-eyed view on the EU based on solid argument and facts, but now where are the credible skeptics? A great shame. And EU delusional.

    5. paul

      His next hedge fund Theleme is an investor in Moderna

      Which, pre-pandemic, was an oven ready turkey.

      Some people say you make your own luck.

  12. David

    The real question here is less “can Boris survive?” than “will Boris be replaced?” As with the leader of any political party, Boris is only as strong as is allowed by the number and quality of those wishing to take his place. It’s a comment on … something … that he’s kept in place only for want of a generally acceptable alternative. But I’m tempted to say this is nemesis arriving on schedule. Forty years of weakening the political and administrative systems of the country have brought this about, as was entirely predictable at the time. I doubt that the long-term destruction of the Tory Party was ever part of Thatcher’s agenda.

    By the way, don’t take the “democratic deficit” argument too seriously: all political parties elect their leaders in the way they see fit, and in the UK, the leader of the ruling party automatically changes when the party leader changes. In 2019, some Grauniad pundits didn’t realise that, and clearly thought it was they who should pick the next leader.

  13. John

    Only when the plane for Rwanda takes off with sole passenger Ms. Patel, with a no-return ticket, will I cheer for BoJo/Tory downfall.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John. I will join you.

      Patel hates Africans and nurses a grudge going back decades.

      Despite what Wikipedia and even a French TV profile of her last Christmas, she’s the child of economic migrants and makes up stories about fleeing Uganda and how the EU / exchange rate mechanism destroyed her parents’ newsagent business, the same nonsense trotted out by Sunak (pharmacies) and Gove (fishing). Patel’s UKIP father, an aeronautics engineer, and mother settled in the UK for good from Uganda in 1965. Patel was born in London in April 1972. Idi Amin Dada expelled the Ugandan Asians* in September 1972. *Most of whom had already transferred their money to the UK thanks to Barclays, so laying the foundations for their business success in the following decade and association with the Tories.

      At school in Watford and university in Keele, Patel was alleged to a bully. Her university tutor at Essex, Colchester, and BBC pundit ridiculed her masters.

      An uncle studied in Uganda circa 1960. Upon his return to Mauritius, he told the family how beastly Ugandan Asians were to Africans and how they have it coming. According to a friend / former colleague of Maghrebin origin who went there some years, the returnees have changed little and, when Africans are not around, revert to their imperial storm trooper and Ulster planter mentality.

      1. John

        Thanks to Colonel Smithers. I am familiar with Patel’s real history from colleagues in UK.
        Violating basic human rights and when challenged by spiritual and human rights authorities, respond with the nonsense Patel uttered (“the policy is innovative and creative…”) is just appalling.

  14. Stephen

    David Starkey once described Johnson as being lazy, without principles except his own self interest and wanting to be liked by everyone. These are not good combined characteristics for an effective Prime Minister and are the antithesis of Margaret Thatcher plus arguably of his hero Winston Churchill.

    The UK political system is increasingly dysfunctional but the one good element is that a Prime Minister is continuously accountable to the electorate via MPs. A PM can be removed. The US system has strengths but once a President is elected, the country is pretty much stuck with the person for their term. Except for the exceptional case of Impeachment. Just last week, Johnson was posing as a statesman at the G7. Today, he needs to keep the support of the MPs for all sorts of far flung UK constituencies. Having to keep the members for Southend West or Rochford on side for survival certainly concentrates the mind.

    I too would rather he were removed for scuppering peace in Ukraine but it is what it is.

    1. chuck roast

      Boris gets all the credit for putting the kibosh on peace talks in Turkey, but let us recall that Ukrainian peace delegate Denis Kireev was murdered at the original peace talks one month earlier. It’s not entirely clear to me who did this or why, but really, after this event who from the Ukrainian side would want to be the first at the peace table? Boris may well have simply put the final bullet in the mortally wounded.

      1. Stephen

        I agree. “Credit” might also not be my precise choice of word!

        Very likely too that Johnson was to a large extent simply a messenger for whomever calls the shots in the Biden administration rather than an autonomous player.

        What I think we can probably agree is that for Zelensky to make a compromise peace, he would need the active support of the US to be able to face down the ultra nationalist elements and retain his job (plus potentially even life) in the process. The reality very much seems to be that Ukraine is a de facto proxy state of the US and her true freedom of agency is (at best) very questionable in any event. Despite public statements to the contrary.

        I do think that the U.K. has shamefully piled on to support US policy and the de facto war against Russia in a totally unquestioning way. Johnson did not have to take that path, although it is broadly consistent with the sweep of British foreign policy since Suez. Similarly, there is zero evidence that any would be replacement would take a different road, of course. Liz Truss is particularly gun ho but she is not alone.

        Writing as an English person (albeit with Irish Catholic heritage) there is nothing that my country has done in this sorry Ukraine tragedy that I feel anything other than shameful of.

        1. paul

          I think victoria nuland’s ‘fuck the EU’ policy will now be extended into the ukraine.

          Zelensky will last as long as his t shirts, the smouldering remains of which will be fanned by those who are warmed by its flickers.

          What is not to be cheered, Libya, Iraq and Yemen are all fuckked for the foreseeable.

          If you can’t make it, break it.

  15. Jon Cloke

    Of course if Conservativehome were real Conservatives they might be asking themselves why the top branch of selectees for their party represents such a broad swathe of untruthful corruption in UK politics… as opposed to just being Tory MPs, which is pretty much the same thing.

    As a non-Conservative gleeful in the presence of a complete inability of the Conservative party to present any cabinet of worth or conscience, my money is on Michael Fabricant.

    They might just as well replace one blonde, pathologically dishonest clown with another one!

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Jon.

      How preposterous is the blonde bomber? I can’t understand how someone like that can get elected.

  16. Tom Pfotzer

    They are our elites. We should respect them and dutifully abide.


    It’s reported by ship’s steward that overnight some steerage passengers have quietly left the ship, and are paddling diligently for shore.

  17. The Rev Kev

    You would think that with all the billions of pounds that Boris had sent Zelensky’s way – along with the British passports – that Zelelnsky could jump a jet to London to the British Parliament and say ‘I stand with Boris!’ It is the least that he could do.

  18. flora

    I see JRM, Truss, and Raab are still in the cabinet, for now. Who hasn’t resigned is almost as interesting as who has resigned. I assume they are making career calculations.

  19. cristobal

    It is said that a country gets the leaders it deserves, I think the same can be said about political parties. Not being British, I only know what I read, but the Tory party seems to be utterly corrupt and without any redeeming features, from top to bottom. Replacing BoJo the Clown with a diffferent scumball won´t make much difference. Is there any hope that Labor can throw out Starmer? He is a spook. Could Corbin come back with a new party? Would he even want to after what the Friends of Isreal and the CIA did to him?

  20. Revenant

    My wife has a flurry on ministerial meetings scheduled this week and next. Said minister keeping schtum in public and frantically looking for emergency policy announcements to bolster their position! They wants to keep their current post because they genuinely want to change policy and are not bad at it.

    The meetings have massively disrupted our diary and are likely to be cancelled at short notice.

    My money is on Boris surviving. A smaller government bench could be sold as a good thing to the public.

  21. Savita

    Commentariat in its finest form! You guys are hilarious! An extra nod to Colonel, PK, David, Flora. If you’ve not seen the english political series The Thick Of It its high time you did. The sharpest, smartest, rudest, cleverist and most biting comedy ever to touch the small screen. Its about politics in London corridors and the art of spin. Priceless, really, its very impressive and VERY funny. There is a spin off film In The Loop which is similar except is exclusively about the build up to the second invasion of Iraq and the conspiring between London and Washington to make it happen. Love from Sydney, Aus.

  22. Steve B

    What exactly are the elite political forces mobilised against Johnson? The Eurosceptic faction which supported Thatcher’s insurgency (the ‘drys’) and variously menaced Major (the ‘bastards’), Cameron (‘swivel-eyed loons’) and May (‘nasty party’) has surely captured the Tory party with Johnson. I can’t see he has enemies to the right. And any enemies to the left are residual Europhiles who have, to their surprise, found themselves on the wrong side of history.

    If the elite political forces arrayed against Johnson are therefore just a conglomeration of individual careerism and opportunism, then they are pretty weak stuff. No reason why Johnson shouldn’t just hang on and do a Berlusconi, pushing politics beyond the point of shame.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      He seems to be clinging to the idea that he would stay as caretaker until October. If the Tories fall for that they are even stupider than I thought.

  23. Tom Bradford

    I was greeted with the news immediately after watching the wonderful 1995 version of Richard III with Ian McKellen as Richard, which set the scene wonderfully.

    It ain’t over yet, tho’. There’s no obvious Henry Tudor to claim the Crown so the scene is set for a vicious civil war in the Tory Party. God knows with the UK circling the drain it’s the last thing the country needs at this moment in time but even if Johnson goes down in history as the worst Prime Minister ever, if his one lasting legacy is the destruction of the Tory Party I’ll raise a glass to his memory.

    And from down here in the Antipodes, at least the popcorn I’d stocked up on in the hope for a few more scenes of Richard’s – sorry, BoJo’s – downfall won’t go to waste as I watch the Wars of the Tories to come.

  24. David

    Johnson has left a landscape of ruins inhabited by pygmies. In the old days, the permanent government system was strong enough to cope with even idiots as Ministers. Now, it’s not, and the problem is there’s no obvious way back. Fortunately, there’s only Covid, Ukraine and a dozen other things to worry about …..

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