The 84 MPs who supported Leadsom "should no longer be trusted to tie their own shoe laces"by Philip Collins / July 11, 2016 / Leave a comment
Politics at high altitude is difficult and not everyone can cope once they have sampled the air. One by one, all of the leaders of the Leave campaign have fallen by the wayside with the exception of Gisela Stuart, who should now stand for the leadership of the Labour party. All of them have fallen for a good conventional reason, which is obscured by the drama of events.
Boris Johnson collapsed first. His demise will be written up as a slaughter by his colleague and erstwhile friend Michael Gove but that was only the public expression. The private truth was that Johnson had already been shown up as not good enough. When Britain voted to “Leave” the European Union, Boris disappeared. He appeared not to be able to cope with what he had done. The weekend after the vote to “Leave” was a great political opportunity. If Johnson had appeared in public and spoken decisively with a sense of where he was planning to take the nation, he would have been Prime Minister.
The fact that he was unable to do so is more than a tactical failure of political timing. It is because he had nothing to say. Even as Mayor of London that clear weakness was obscured. Suddenly, at the high altitude, in the thinner air at the summit of politics, he struggled to breathe. Johnson’s essential frivolity was a fresh novelty at all points in politics short of the top. Suddenly, with the nation on the threshold of great uncertainty it needed a professional. By his absence Johnson showed that, in his own words, he was not that man. Gove’s action was a recognition by an insider of a fact that was already apparent. It was therefore an act of political mercy.
There was, though, a victim and that victim was Gove himself. His bullet passed straight through Johnson and then ricocheted back onto himself. If Gove had declared himself a contender from the beginning he might, possibly, have had a chance of winning over his party. As the man who conducted such an act of treachery, he blew all hope. MPs fled from the Leave…