Steerpike Steerpike

Boris rewrites the rule book

Boris Johnson has never been a conventional politician. Whether it was spearheading Vote Leave or leveraging Have I Got News For You, he’s always shown a willingness to embrace an unorthodox approach to public life – as evidenced, perhaps, by his colourful personal affairs. In office he’s enraged the Sir Humphreys of Whitehall by bulldozing through various ministerial, political and constitutional conventions from the prorogation of Parliament and the Standards Committee saga to the Internal Markets Act and his claims in the House.

So it’s perhaps unsurprising then that the Johnson government is planning to rewrite the government rulebook. Steerpike has been told that ministers and mandarins are currently overhauling the Cabinet Manual, last updated by the Coalition government in 2011. The aim is to complete the changes by the end of this Parliament in 2024 to reflect changes that have occurred over the past decade – including the repeal of the much-hated Fixed-term Parliaments Act that bedevilled MPs throughout the Brexit years. Johnson’s government recently repealed it in the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill, which last month received Royal Assent.

Given some of the shenanigans which his administration has been involved in these past three years, Mr S looks forward to Johnson applying his journalistic pen to the constitution and playing founding father with the official government guide. After all, who better to write about ministerial conventions than the man who has flouted so many of them?

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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