As I predicted, there were angry and heated scenes in Parliament yesterday. MPs from all sides expressed their disgust at the behaviour of Johnson and his Cabinet coterie. Some, like Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman (a man I normally have little time for) didn’t mince their words.
The whole proceedings were a deeply unedifying spectacle, more so because of the complete contempt Johnson and his clique showed for both Parliament, the Judiciary and democracy itself. The final straw for many was Johnson’s clear disdain for female MP’s worries about him stoking up tensions and his attempt to co-opt the spirit of the murdered MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, by claiming enabling Brexit would honour her memory.
I met Jo Cox once. At a station adoption event in Batley. Jo was very kind and helpful to my wife Dawn as it was Dawn’s first public speaking event representing her company, ACoRP. After that meeting I was convinced Jo would have gone far, maybe even all the way to the top. She was clever, witty and engaging. She also knew how to make things happen. What I do know is that Jo would have been horrified by Brexit and done everything she could to fight it. Johnson using her is typical of the man. Let’s face it, he has a long history of using and exploiting women. He has no moral compass whatsoever. The only thing that matters to him is his own ambition.
But don’t fall into the trap of thinking Johnson’s unapologetic performance and stoking of outrage yesterday was accidental. It was anything but. It was straight out of the Steve Bannon playbook, the one Trump keeps under his pillow.
Johnson’s trapped himself. His arrogance, willingness to lie fluently and lack of a moral compass have got him (and us) into this mess. Politically he’s a dead man walking, caught in a mire of his own making. He’s impotent as he has no majority so he’s at the mercy of others. He’s swinging in the wind like the famous picture on that zipwire. The only way out of it that he sees is to trigger an election – hence his behaviour. He wants a vote of no confidence – anything that will trigger an election that he thinks he still has a chance of winning. That’s why he’s trying to goad everyone, be they Labour, women MPs or even his own backbenches.
But remember the old Chinese saying. Revenge is a dish best eaten cold. Johnson’s problem is that others remember that saying too and are happy to give him enough rope…
Since I wrote this Parliament has voted to refuse to suspend itself during the Conservative party conference. It’s yet another humiliation for Johnson, who’s faced with being at the conference or in Parliament. Ten of the former Conservative MP’s Johnson withdrew the whip from voted against the motion. Remember what I said about revenge?