You need a healthy degree of self-esteem to be prime minister. Sensible leaders wish for nothing more lofty than to be respected by their allies and opponents alike.
In case you haven’t already noticed: Boris Johnson is not a sensible man.
Over the course of his long career in media and politics, he has become known for recklessness, inattention and dishonesty. He is adored, but not by the people that matter and not for the reasons he would want.
It is true that Boris Johnson is held in great affection by some but it is in a similar way to the lively regular visitor of your local pub. They’re great for a laugh over drinks but you wouldn’t trust them with your spare key.
Or, as Boris Johnson’s former colleague Amber Rudd once famously put it: “He is the life and soul of the party, but he’s not the man you would want driving you home afterwards.’’
That we have ended up with this man as our prime minister at a time of national crisis feels like a cruel joke has been played upon us by the universe.
Throughout the crisis, we have seen Boris Johnson’s corrupting influence in every headline about government pandemic contract cronyism: where taxpayers’ cash has been awarded to party donors and friends of ministers without proper scrutiny or transparency.
Time to reflect
The success of the vaccination programme across the UK has given our political leaders some breathing room. We’re all keen to move on and start enjoying the fruits of our collective sacrifice.
Covid case numbers, deaths and hospitalisations continue to decline. The pubs are open again. Things can only get better from here.
But if we are to learn the necessary lessons from the pandemic then we have to look back. And what we see in the rear view mirror will undoubtedly cause problems for those that were tasked with handling our response to the virus.
The Tory sleaze scandal encompasses a multitude of allegations: any one of which would be incredibly damaging for a prime minister
This week, the UK government has been the subject of wall-to-wall negative headlines, the like of which we’ve not seen since Boris Johnson’s shenanigans over the prorogation of parliament.
What has been dubbed the “Tory sleaze scandal’’ actually encompasses a multitude of tales and allegations: any one of which one their own would be incredibly damaging for a prime minister.
Who paid for the renovations to Boris Johnson’s Downing St flat? Did the prime minister try to intervene to stop an official leak inquiry because he suspected the outcome would be damaging for a friend of his fiancé?
Did the prime minister behave improperly when he discussed fixing tax rules via text message to benefit millionaire businessman James Dyson?
These are the questions being asked of Boris Johnson and – despite his best efforts to kill the stories with flat denials – they aren’t going away.
In terms of the Ministerial Code and the expectation that resignations should follow any deliberate breach, it is those key issues that are potentially dicey for Boris Johnson’s premiership.
let the bodies pile high in their thousands… If Boris Johnson did say those words then he isn’t fit to be prime minister
But for the public, I expect it is the alleged comments that the prime minister made last October that are the most shocking.
During a tense meeting held to discuss the need for a second lockdown, Boris Johnson is reported to have been ‘’in a rage’’ at the prospect of further restrictions.
After senior ministers pointed out the dangers of inaction, Boris Johnson reluctantly agreed but it is alleged that he then ranted that he’d rather “let the bodies pile high in their thousands’’ than agree to a third lockdown at a later stage.
If Boris Johnson did say those words then he isn’t fit to be prime minister.
Explosive yet believable
As the death toll continued to rise and NHS and key worker heroes were leading the fight against the virus, it is almost inconceivable that our prime minister would throw a temper tantrum because he was being asked to make a decision about what to do next.
The reason this is such an explosive charge to be levelled at the prime minister is because it is totally believable. Nicola Sturgeon’s opponents are just as fiercely critical of her as Boris Johnson’s are. But I’d wager that few of them could honestly say that they could imagine her behaving in such a disgraceful way.
Even aside from the fact that the claims have been supported by at least two other sources, to two different journalists: you can easily imagine those words coming out of Boris Johnson’s mouth.
Away from the carefully cultivated ‘Bumbling Boris’ persona, our prime minister is a man who is quick in anger and slow in remorse.
Former friends, colleagues and employers of the prime minister have gone on record to say that his temperament is incompatible with the responsibility of the office he holds.
The fish rots from the head down and if Boris Johnson is allowed to slither away from the Tory sleaze scandal it will be to the detriment of wider politics and standards in public life.
It’s time for his party to stop enabling his bad behaviour. If they don’t act soon, the stench of sleaze coming from Downing St might just overwhelm them all.