Well, it’s been a bit of a fraught week or so if you follow any of the ongoing meltdown that is the UK government. It all started last week (on Tuesday) when a former civil servant revealed — to no-one’s surprised — that Boris Johnson had indeed been lying about the most recent self-inflicted scandal to beset his administration.
I say that no-one surprised but Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, was so shocked by this news that he promptly resigned. This resignation was followed promptly — suspiciously promptly — with a resignation from Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No further ministers resigned but, over the next couple of days, most of the rest of the government did.
By Thursday, Johnson finally realised that the jig was up and gave a speech… not exactly resigning, but acknowledging that even his own party didn’t want him in charge any more. Of course, Johnson being Johnson, he still tried to cling to his salary for as long as he could get away with. But the wheels were in motion and the Conservative Party eventually started the process of selecting a new leader. Once the leader of the Conservative Party is selected, he or she will automatically become the next Prime Minister and there really is nothing more Johnson can say or do about any of this.
And we now have a date to which we can look forward:
The U.K prime minister is set to step down from his role in eight weeks’ time, after a new Tory leader is elected in a ballot of party members ending September 5. Johnson’s anointed successor is likely to take over as Tory leader and U.K. Prime Minister the following day — Tuesday, September 6.
First we have a couple of weeks during which the Conservative MPs will vote and vote again until they are down to only two candidates. Then there will be a long drawn out summer while these last two candidates attempt to appeal to the few thousand reactionaries and lunatics that make up the wider Conservative Party.
This is going to get ugly.
Eight candidates have managed to scrape together enough support to make it onto the first ballot, and what is frightening is that they are all either genuinely bonkers or pretending to be.
In many ways, Johnson is a symptom rather than the cause of this disaster.
The red-faced Europhobe wing of the Conservative Party has been around since the 1980s, if not longer, fighting the same old fantasy battles against an imaginary enemies while the rest of us got on with our lives.
It was David Cameron who, on discovering that he was unable to lead his own party, decided to hold a referendum to shut them up. And it was David Cameron who gave no thought whatsoever as to how this referendum should be organised, what question should be asked, or what the consequences might be if it all went badly wrong.
As we all know, it went very badly wrong indeed and Cameron promptly resigned.
Cameron was followed by Theresa May who — again, with no consultation or consideration of the consequences — not only rushed into starting the process of Britain’s exit from the EU, but also announced a set of negotiating red lines that set Britain on course for the insanely hard Brexit in which the country has found itself.
She could had invested some time in trying to build a consensus. She could have looked for a form of Brexit with which most people could accept. But instead, she decided to pander to the fantasist minority in her own party and, when she finally found herself facing reality, her party ousted her in favour of Boris Johnson.
Johnson didn’t even try to deal with reality. He simply lied, and lied again, telling the extremists upon whose support he depended whatever they wanted to hear.
Johnson’s lies and delusions have finally come back to bite him, but the end of Johnson does not mean the end of his toxic legacy. Under his premiership, the Conservative Party has become a hollowed out shell, comprising of English Nationalists and Libertarian Fundamentalists and one that has nothing to offer but imaginary battles and endlessly re-litigated feuds.
The sooner this party implodes, the better.
Here’s a song: