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Monday, 22 July 2019

Deckchairs Rearranged

Useless May is now finally about to leave Number 10 after three years in office.  It has seemed like a lot longer.  May is undoubtedly the least successful Prime Minister in modern times: Callaghan, Major and Brown were titans of statesmanship by comparison.  Part of the explanation for her fate is her own flaws and weaknesses: she was popular until people found out what she was like.  She is a living example of how quiet, socially awkward individuals can be overpromoted because everyone assumes that they must be good at the technical stuff.  Capax imperii, nisi imperasset, as Johnson might write in one of his Telegraph columns.  But this isn't just the story of one individual who was inadequate to her role.  Theresa Mary May is the fifth Conservative prime minister in a row to lose her job over Europe, and she will probably not be the last.

There is every likelihood that the Tory Party will turn on Johnson too, sooner rather than later.  He can't go on making incompatible promises to his warring factions: he is going to need to start taking some decisions.  There is a good chance that his time in office will be a short one - but he can still do a lot of damage in the meantime.  He must be one of the few people in the United Kingdom who is even less suited to the premiership than May.  He is Donald Trump with an Oxford degree.  A charmless cultivated eccentric of the sort that this country has produced for centuries.  A man whose only fixed political principle seems to be a manchild's resentment at having to follow rules (an instinct which, not coincidentally, shines through his writings on the European Union).  A journalist who was fired for lying and whose current newspaper defended an Ipso complaint with the argument that it was obvious that his columns were not meant to be taken seriously.  His latest pronouncement - that Brexit is quite a lot like the moon landings when you think about it, so we can do it if we believe hard enough - is so desperately ludicrous that he probably more or less believes it.