Let the games begin.
With Boris Johnson unable to function – and recovering from coronavirus into the bargain – some ‘untimely’ leaks regarding the PM’s nonchalance, even his negligence, have emerged. It was only a matter of time before somebody started to ginger it up for Boris.
And you don’t need to turn up at Chequers holding some cue cards to tell him what’s what. It’s Gove Actually.
Slither forward our old chum himself who snorted: ‘There are one or two aspects of the Sunday Times report that are slightly off-beam’.
That’s one hell of a line, Michael. Said everybody from the party. And of course, the government.
It was a feeble rebuttal that was as transparent as it was limp. For the moment, the cabinet will be supportive of the Prime Minister. After all, you need to get behind someone before you can stab them in the back.
But don’t forget that when Gove skewered Boris the first time round in 2016, he reached the sombre and reluctant conclusion that our current supremo was unfit for the very highest office. At that time, he opined that Boris was not ‘capable of uniting that team and leading the party and the country in the way that [he] would have hoped‘.
The Gove puppet has since stated that his view on that has mellowed, but you can bet that his burning ambition for the big shilling most certainly has not.
Now, even if the PM did drop the ball, don’t expect any urgent inquiry into the government’s handling of the debacle. That will be ‘placed on hold to be rescheduled to an unspecified point in the future’, or at least that’s what some Sir Humphrey will doubtless offer up. For now, any coup will centre on nebulous perceptions of incompetence and the progressively grave concerns for a fix for a shafted economy.
We are firmly post-fact, after all.
And these new revelations don’t tell us anything new about Boris. All the baggage that would likely be upturned onto the political customs desk for his embarrassment was merely on ice until the moment was right.
And that moment has now arguably arrived.
The PM has crossed the wrong powerbrokers and bumbled off the reservation with his recent short shrift for certain sections of the media. Furthermore, there are concerns about the flight path for Brexit. Both see big-time billionaires lacing up gloves in the opposing corner, and they are real bruisers with the wonga and the reach to land some hefty haymakers. It’s a ruinously minacious combo.
And in the Gove Machine, they have the perfect front man who won’t need too much arm-twisting to step into Brutus’s sandals. Conniving and knifing truly do go hand in Gove.
What though is deliciously ironic about the guy is that every time he whips out his dagger, he ends up stabbing himself. But it’s a testament to either how far we’ve fallen or how smooth an operator he is that he’s still in there, ferreting away for the golden ticket to No.10 with an obduracy that would have put Charlie Bucket to shame.
But will he finally get to take over Willy Wonka’s factory?
He is without a doubt a smart chap who does the detail and gets results. Even his strongest opponents lauded his work as the Secretary of State for Education. But up to now, he’s seemed like the expert swordsman in the first Indiana Jones film who emerges from the crowd, twirls his sabre, and then gets swiftly shot by the monkey-friendly guy packing heat.
But you have to wonder now whether he may just have the right cannon in his slopey shoulder holster? The whole shooting match might not happen overnight, but the bullet’s been slotted into the chamber.
They say ‘fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’. Well, Boris may be heading for a big number two, but it was always going to be an occupational hazard when supping with Mrs Thatcher’s Gove child. You don’t need a tête-à-tête with the Godfather in the family vineyard to know that you have to keep your friends close and your enemies closer still. And in a cabinet with ministers who have higher ages than IQs, you do need some raw talent in there in order to prevent a collapse of the Big Top onto the rest of the circus.
As for Boris, he just made the possibly (politically) fatal errors of biting the hands that fed him and then breathing in the bug at the wrong time which gave the space for the underbelly of potential plotters to settle down into their little Gove nest.
We should however be unequivocal on one pulsating point: this is not about corona management. This is about personal ambition and media money seizing on a big fat juicy opportunity. Naturally, corona errors and fears about Brexit will all be harnessed to build momentum, along with anything else that will stick. Changing the leader now will not matter one iota with regard to getting on top of the coronachaos. Only a facts-based plan will achieve that.
This is all about hard politics and the almost inevitable, cyclical Tory coochie-coup. It’s that time once again when the Conservative Party sits down to peruse the menu – health crisis, economic meltdown, Brexit – and instead, opts to eat itself.
Meanwhile, erstwhile lefty in-fighters in Labour and what is left (or psycho-centre-left) of the Lib Dems are clutching at any available straw with the suggestion that the current administration re-forms/reforms*delete as appropriate under some sort of ‘government of national unity’. From a perspective of effective governance, it’s one that would flutter down onto the camel’s back, and it’s desperate business for an opposition that just cannot extricate itself from the Corbachev era of pointless student rallying in order to plate up some serious challenges.
Back on the plot (or to the plot), a choice may ultimately emerge between two former journalist shysters – one who purportedly loafs about and another who gets stuff done. So, at a time of escalating crisis, which one will rapidly become more appealing?
For reference, Germany have at the helm a very clever former scientist. Her delivery might not be as slick, but check out her leadership…
The Tory plotters might well think that all you need is Gove.
But Gove is all you need.