The Tories are in trouble, and Boris Johnson isn’t their only problem

Editorial: As with other political leaders in jeopardy in the past, one of Mr Johnson’s few strengths is that his enemies are divided, and no clear replacement figure is being suggested

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:30

Two of the more unconventional but useful indices of political trouble are the extent to which a leader becomes a figure of fun rather than mere scorn; and when (in smaller countries) their travails attract the attention of the foreign press.

Measured on those yardsticks, Boris Johnson cannot count on seeing another new year in office. In the Commons, he stated that when he entered the garden of Downing Street on 20 May 2020 to see groups of people enjoying the nice weather, drinking booze and enjoying party food, he assumed it was a “work meeting”. The leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, made the most of a prime minister, known as something of a bon viveur, not recognising a good time when he sees it.

Mr Johnson, some time ago, used to be funny in the right sorts of ways; now the clowning is a source of a different kind of embarrassment. The reveries have not enhanced his moral authority or any impression that he is a serious leader for serious times. Now he is self-isolating after close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, but many angry families feel he has been isolating himself from their suffering for far too long.

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