After unceremoniously resigning as an MP before having to face a by-election or better yet, a suspension, we’d hoped that the former Prime Minister’s contentious career in politics was over, once and for all. Unfortunately, as is customary in the UK, we’ve been met with disappointment. Boris Johnson’s resignation as an MP seems to be a move straight out of his playbook, having already once resigned as foreign secretary, and from the role of Prime Minister. He’s predictable, to say the least.
Almost immediately following his resignation, the now former MP took up a new job as columnist at the Daily Mail, publishing excruciatingly unoriginal and utterly ordinary takes every Saturday, for a measly six-figure salary… Last week, Johnson paid tribute to those who died on the OceanGate Titan submersible, somehow managing to castigate the left while also bragging about his own experience as a diver. You seriously can’t make this stuff up.
He’s been described as a “pound shop Adrian Chiles,” a columnist at The Guardian who is responsible for masterful pieces such as: “I’d love to laugh like a baby again. But the best I can hope for is a big sneeze.” Chiles finds beauty and profundity in the mundane, Johnson manages to make even the extraordinary boring.
He was previously an editor at The Spectator and a columnist for The Telegraph, having written for them sporadically since 1999, often concurrently serving as a senior politician. As a journalist, BoJo was famed for fabricating sources and turning work in late.
It has since been announced that he broke parliamentary rules in taking this job so soon after leaving Parliament. The very same rules he breached in 2018 when he started writing for The Telegraph right after resigning as foreign secretary. The fact that anyone could be genuinely surprised he broke the rules yet again—something his party so often did during the COVID-19 pandemic too—and then lied about it is miraculous.
It’s now rumoured that Johnson plans to run for election at a future general election, although to stand as a candidate for MP, he would require party approval—and Tory leaders are currently trying to distance themselves from him and his various scandals. Others have alleged he plans to run for Mayor of London at the next election, currently slated for 2025. He held the post from 2008 to 2016, twice beating the previous mayor, Ken Livingstone, before becoming an MP once more.
Johnson was a relatively popular mayor, overseeing the 2012 Summer Olympics, and, during the 2019 general lection, he gained the support of many traditionally Labour voters. In the mayoral election, he could feasibly stand as an independent, thus avoiding negotiations with the Conservatives, or perhaps he could even team up with an “anti-woke,” right-wing, populist party, such as Reclaim or Reform. That being said, it would be unlikely for anyone not representing Labour or the Conservatives to win the vote.
Johnson left, or should we say abandoned, parliament before the release of the so-called Partygate report by the House of Commons’ Committee of Privileges, which recommended a 20-day suspension for him, over the threshold of ten days required to trigger a by-election.
The report was approved by the Commons with little resistance—many senior Tories, including Rishi Sunak, abstained rather than pick a side. Due to Johnson’s initial response to the report, wherein he described the proceedings as “a kangaroo court,” the committee increased its recommended suspension to 90 days (the second highest suspension ever passed down) and proposed his parliamentary pass be revoked, an unprecedented move for a former Prime Minister.
Nigel Adams, a close supporter of Johnson who served as Minister of State without Portfolio at the Cabinet Office from 2021 to 2022, also resigned. Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary under Johnson and former contestant on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! announced that she planned to resign. However, she has since refused to complete the drawn-out and antiquated process of resigning as an MP until she has answers as to why she was denied a peerage, apparently promised by Johnson and blocked by Number 10. Surely her constituents deserve better?
The Tories are now facing three imminent by-elections, the third triggered by the resignation of David Warburton, who claims he was denied a fair hearing by the parliamentary harassment watchdog investigating allegations “that he had made unwanted advances towards two women.” By-elections are a useful bellwether for political opinion: the Tories seem on track to lose all three, despite being relatively safe seats. The more pressing question is whether the Lib Dems or Labour will come out on top.
Sunak’s government is currently polling almost as badly as Liz Truss just before she resigned. Imminent rises in mortgage rates are an inescapable time bomb that will likely devastate the Tories at next year’s election, hitting middle-income earners and young families the worst—core demographic groups they desperately need to hold on to.
A collapse next year would invariably trigger another change of leadership. Might Johnson or a Johnson loyalist step into this vacuum? After all, and whether you like it or not, he was responsible for the biggest election win the Conservatives have had in decades. While he has, eventually, faced consequences for his actions, it was, ultimately, relatively minor details that brought him down. Thankfully, due process and institutional accountability won out, but if anyone knows how to manipulate technical loopholes and public opinion for personal gain, it’s Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.