DANIEL JOHNSON: Ousting Boris Johnson now would be nothing less than insanity
- Latest Platinum Jubilee news as the Queen celebrates 70 years of service
For the past four days, we have seen Britain at its best. Seldom have our Armed Forces looked more impressive and our nation more at ease with itself.
Above all, the Queen is still with us, happy and glorious, a supremely reassuring presence in good times and bad. The entire world has watched the spectacle of her Platinum Jubilee with admiration –and not a little envy.
But there is one group of malcontents for whom the festivities have merely been an opportunity for plotting. These are the so-called Tory rebels who are scheming to trigger a confidence vote, maybe even as soon as this week.
How eagerly they and their supporters in the media seized on the crowds outside St Paul’s Cathedral, a noisy handful of whom jeered Boris Johnson and his wife as they arrived for the Service of Thanksgiving on Friday – as if a few boos should decide the fate of a Prime Minister. To inflict a Tory leadership contest on the country now would be nothing less than insanity.
‘The Queen is still with us, happy and glorious, a supremely reassuring presence in good times and bad’
‘Not a single leadership hopeful has so far had the guts to stand up and challenge Boris Johnson openly’
The truth is that these ‘rebels’ don’t even know what they are supposed to be rebelling against. They are a random collection of nobodies and narcissists, plus the usual suspects. This ramshackle rabble of embittered Remainers and disenchanted Red Wall newbies have nothing in common, except of course their burning resentment of Boris Johnson.
Even supposing that they were to succeed in bringing down the Prime Minister, none of these self-appointed saviours of the Tory party has the faintest idea what to do next.
Which of these amateur assassins, now swirling their cloaks and brandishing their daggers, would resist the breakup of the United Kingdom better than Boris Johnson?
Would any of them stand firmer than this PM against the rising tide of woke culture, which indoctrinates civil servants with nonsense about the biology of the sexes and poisons children with a hatred of our history?
Not a single leadership hopeful has so far had the guts to stand up and challenge Boris Johnson openly. They are cowards, willing to wound but afraid to strike.
The only one who has made no secret of his disloyalty is Jeremy Hunt. The former health secretary is reported to be ‘on manoeuvres’ every time he sniffs a chance to make trouble for the man who beat him.
Mr Hunt lost fair and square in 2019, rejected by both MPs and party members in favour of a proven election winner. The Conservatives made the right decision, as their landslide victory later that year demonstrated.
‘Rishi Sunak, on whose watch prices have risen faster than for 30 years, bears far more responsibility for inflation than the PM’
‘Mr Hunt lost fair and square in 2019, rejected by both MPs and party members in favour of a proven election winner’
Nothing has happened since to suggest that Jeremy Hunt, or indeed any of the other individuals that have been talked about, would have made a better job of guiding us through the past three years.
What we do know is that Covid restrictions would have been more onerous and lasted much longer if Labour had been in charge during the pandemic. That is what the anti-Boris brigade threatens to bring about. There is no point in denying that Boris Johnson has made mistakes, nor that Britain now faces serious challenges. The cost of living crisis, for example, is happening partly because the Bank of England, at the Treasury’s bidding, loosened the purse strings for too long and let inflation get out of control.
Why, though, would the solution be to replace Boris with his next-door neighbour in Downing Street? Rishi Sunak, on whose watch prices have risen faster than for 30 years, bears far more responsibility for inflation than the PM. Yet the Chancellor’s name is brought up regularly as a possible successor, doubtless at his instigation.
It makes no sense. The potential rivals are all either untested or overrated, especially by themselves. And they cannot agree even on basic principles.
Take, for example, two MPs who are seldom shy about criticising the PM and promoting themselves at their party’s expense: Tobias Ellwood and Tom Tugendhat. Both are passionate Remainers, but whereas Mr Ellwood wants the UK to rejoin the EU, Mr Tugendhat dismisses that notion as absurd.
The squabbling of Tobias and Tom brings the Lewis Carroll characters Tweedledee and Tweedledum to mind. The tragedy of the Tory predicament is that both these MPs are former soldiers, who strongly approve of Boris Johnson’s handling of the great foreign policy challenge of the day: the war in Ukraine.
Thanks to the PM, Brexit is done and dusted. Except in the minds of a few Remainers, it is no longer a pressing issue. But Putin’s threat to Ukraine and to Europe is.
In the face of this grave and deepening crisis, Conservative MPs ought to be rallying round the PM to back his bold strategy of solidarity with Ukraine. That strategy is helping to defeat and ultimately expel the invaders.
More than 100 days after the monstrous Russian onslaught, bringing death and destruction on a scale Europe has not witnessed since 1945, the British are winning the argument on the Continent.
‘Conservative MPs ought to be rallying round the PM to back his bold strategy of solidarity with Ukraine’
Northern, Central, East and even West Europeans are following the example set by Boris Johnson, who has been closer to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, than any other leader. Most are rejecting the ‘whiff of Munich’ emanating from appeasers in Paris, Berlin and Rome.
For the first time since the days of Margaret Thatcher, and regardless of Brexit, British leadership has inspired Europe. It should be a source of pride.
Yet how does the Tory party respond? It turns in upon itself, risking a lasting civil war between pro- and anti-Boris factions that would make the strife of the post-Thatcher era look like the Queen’s tea party with Paddington Bear.
Such a toxic split could allow Sir Keir Starmer and Sir Ed Davey to seize control of Downing Street, at the head of a Lib-Lab coalition with Scottish separatists and Green fundamentalists.
For the hard-Left, the long march through the institutions would then be over. By introducing an EU-style electoral system, this nightmarish knightly duo could ensure they never let themselves be dislodged. Few of the achievements of the past 70 years would survive their occupation.
The Greeks had a saying, all too familiar to a classical scholar such as Boris Johnson: ‘Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.’ Tory MPs now contemplating a coup against the Prime Minister should think carefully about what they are doing, before plunging their party into catastrophe and the country into a dismal future.
Daniel Johnson is editor of TheArticle.
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