Tom Bower

Can Boris save himself?

Among the PM’s weaknesses is that he doesn’t understand Britain’s political history and governance

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The ugly spectacle of Boris Johnson’s self-destruction will reach a new climax at the end of this week. Many think that only a miracle can save the great escapologist from the official Partygate inquiry. The Gambler himself is convinced that his determination will crush his enemies and once again he will survive to fight and win his next challenge – the local elections in May.

Even Johnson’s closest admirers are baffled how an experienced politician could have orchestrated such an extraordinary succession of self-inflicted wounds. Just what went wrong in Johnson’s life since he won a stunning 80 seat majority just over two years ago?

All the qualities which won that majority – his spontaneous humour, shrewd judgment and unique relationship with electors — have disappeared. Instead, haunched, wet-eyed and dull, he looks dishevelled and exhausted.

Even worse, his political values have damagingly shifted to the left. As London’s mayor, Boris was the low tax, pro-enterprise one-nation Tory who rebuilt the city after the 2008 crash into the world’s most booming, popular destination. Now, he has become a high tax, anti-business, manic environmentalist who has failed to deliver the Brexit bonus. Instead of optimistic Britain being a magnet for wealth creators, Boris’s Britain is gripped by sleazy paralysis.

Of course, his embittered critics predicted in 2019 that Boris’s regime would end in chaos. Sceptical journalists who had worked closely with Boris screamed that the lying adulterer could not be trusted. They were contradicted by those who served in London’s City Hall. Defying his critics, Boris had worked hard, paid attention to detail, listened to shrewd advisors and delivered success. Now, his admirers are puzzled why he has failed to replicate his success as London’s mayor.

As his biographer, I forewarned one year ago that he had sowed his own seeds of self-destruction. He had arrived in Downing Street surrounded by a few loyal City Hall advisors rather than experienced Whitehall Warriors.

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