London Diary: Bye, bye, Boris? He has agreed to resign but has not resigned yet
Media headlines around the world have claimed that Boris Johnson has resigned as Britain’s Prime Minister. But he has only reluctantly agreed to resign and remains very much in office
Media headlines around the world have claimed that Boris Johnson has resigned as Britain’s Prime Minister. But the fact is that he has done no such thing. He has only reluctantly agreed to resign and remains very much in office.
“Resigned? No, he hasn’t. A prime minister offers their resignation to the person who asked them to form a government. That person is the monarch, not the parliamentary Conservative Party, the press or the political editor of the BBC. Boris Johnson has promised to resign in the autumn: he has not, I repeat not, resigned,” wrote The Times columnist Mathew Parris.
And Petronella Wyatt, a former mistress of Boris Johnson, wrote this in an article headed: “Is Boris fibbing to us again?”
“I do not believe, knowing Boris Johnson as I do, that he quite realises he has resigned and that his personal fat lady has sung. Indeed, his resignation speech was singular in that it never once mentioned resignation.... Then I began to wonder if Boris was fibbing to us again. Did he intend to go at all? Why, for instance, was he so determined to stay until October, surrounded by the very people he hates and despises, in short, his own assassins, if he didn’t think something would ‘turn up’? For all the years I have known him, Boris’s philosophy is ‘turning upism’.”
So, what could turn up? There are conspiracy theories that he might try to smear leadership candidates in some dubious manner. One commentator recalled a story of Huey Long, one time governor of Louisiana, who promised to resign but didn’t and when a furious angry crowd turned up at his home, he instructed an aide: “Tell them I lied.” So much for Johnson’s famous resignation.
A House of scandals
Want to know what goes on in the world’s mother of parliaments renowned for its “honourable” members’ supposedly impeccable etiquettes? Here’s a quick snapshot of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s close party colleagues have been up to lately as catalogued by The Times: “In the past six months a Conservative MP has been arrested for rape; another is facing allegations of taking cocaine and groping parliamentary aides; a third was convicted of having sexually assaulted a teenage boy; and a fourth admitted watching pornography in the Commons. The last two resigned, triggering by-elections that the party lost last week.”
And then there’s of course Chris Pincher whose sexual peccadilloes triggered a chain of events forcing Johnson to agree to resign. He was caught groping two men after getting drunk at a party. Apparently, he was so drunk that he had to be “escorted out” (a euphemism for being thrown out) of the club’s premises.
He has been suspended from the partyand is being investigated by the Parliamentary watchdog which can recommend further action.
Friendless, lonely men
There’s an old theory that one reason why MPs tend to behave badly (MPs from all political parties have been guilty of sexual misconduct) is loneliness caused by the fact that they spend so much time away from their families.
Some have now seized on a new book to claim vindication for their “loneliness” theory which, they claim, sometimes pushes them into seeking comfort in the wrong places, though the book makes no such claims.
The book Billy No-Mates is written by a Londoner Max Dickins who suddenly discovered that he had no real friends prompting him to ask whether it was just him or was it a wider phenomenon. And he found he was not the only lonely odd man out.
Described as “funny but deeply uncomfortable read for men”, it says, men end up being more lonely than women because they are bad at making real friends and confusing pub mates for friends.
It follows surveys showing that one in five men have no close friends — twice the proportion for women—making millions of men isolated and craving for companionship in times of crisis. But boys, it seems, will be boys judging from the initial reaction to the book.
Knock, knock, are you OK Sir?
As feel-good stories go, this one has everything going for it. Britain’s Royal Mail is reported to be drawing up plans for postmen to check up on vulnerable people in addition to delivering letters.
The new service is due to be tested and tried in Northumberland, a county in Northern England, before being expanded nationally.
“We’re exploring opportunities so that posties can check on vulnerable people. Because we go everywhere, every day, our great, trusted team sees things that others don’t”, said the Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson “At the moment, we do this quite informally. But actually we could do this formally to provide a unique service to society and our customers,” he said. Thank you, Royal Mail.
And, lastly, it has not gone unnoticed that two of the most prominent political assassins of Boris Johnson also happened to be two of the most high-profile Asian-origin Cabinet ministers—Rishi Sunak, and Sajid Javid. A third Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, also eventually turned against him.
(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.)