Deprived of Brexit, the Tories have simply lapsed back into division

Editorial: It is difficult to believe that the Conservatives, usually so keen on power, want Boris Johnson to lead them into the next general election or even the next round of local elections in May

Thursday 20 January 2022 09:21
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If contrition doesn’t work, try boosterism. After a head-bowed display of apparent remorse to the television cameras, the next day we saw the prime minister bouncing back to his old boisterous self at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Perhaps he was enraged by the defection of one of his own backbenchers, Christian Wakeford, or maybe he wanted to remind his followers of his sometime prowess as a parliamentary debater, but at any rate he was showing some belief in himself, which, to be fair, is not usually in short supply. He did well to stand up to some unexpectedly biting wit from Sir Keir Starmer, as well as a flat-footed assault from David Davis, while his backbenchers enjoyed hearing that plan B was being mostly abolished earlier than expected. Inflation being at a 30-year high was brushed aside as a mere footnote to the UK’s supposedly booming economy.

If acting like a winner is enough to be a winner, then Boris Johnson has little to worry about. He seems to possess unbridled confidence about the outcome of Sue Gray’s investigation. Ms Gray is reportedly “reaching out” to Dominic Cummings, despite the danger that he might nip her fingers as she does so. She will no doubt test with Mr Cummings the prime minister’s plaintive defence that “no one told” him that the party he attended was in breach of the lockdown rules. Mr Cummings says that he and others did warn the prime minister precisely about that, in advance, and states that he would swear under oath to that effect.

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