Endless woe

I’ve had my share of jobs that have gotten off to a pretty rocky start, so I’m tempted to feel a little sympathy for Boris Johnson, as he looks back on a week where he lost every important parliamentary vote, more than twenty of his MPs, and a few ministers, including his own brother.

I’ll resist that temptation though, since Johnson is clearly the author of his own misfortune, and the resulting tribulations are likely to afflict the whole nation. It’s sobering to take stock of how far the country’s standing has already fallen; we are in a situation where it is commonly accepted that the head of Her Majesty’s Government is a congenital liar who cannot be trusted to keep his word of honour, and, notwithstanding the assurances of the Lord Chancellor himself, there is serious doubt over his administration’s commitment to the rule of law.

It’s still just about unthinkable that a Conservative Prime Minister would flagrantly disrespect legal conventions, so, since the opposition have wisely refused to be drawn into a premature election, it looks like Johnson has painted himself into a corner with all his overblown rhetoric about the October 31st deadline for Brexit, and will have to choose between a humiliating climbdown, or resigning the office he so recently won.

I guess it is possible that this is all part of some master plan that will end with Johnson returning in triumph after winning a huge majority in the election that will have to come before the end of the year. The latest opinion polls do provide him some comfort, and it is far from unimaginable that a populist campaign might hold enough of the leave vote together to deliver victory. It doesn’t seem like a recipe for long-term stability though, especially once the post-Brexit financial crisis starts to kick in. Anyone hoping that this will all be over soon is going to badly disappointed.

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