Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How Boris Johnson was brought to his knees by the 'cuckoo nest plot'

All of a sudden, the leaking of the Sarah Vine email did not seem so accidental after all. Was it deliberately given to Sky News to undermine Mr Johnson and pave the way for a Gove challenge?
As Theresa May (not to be confused with Teresa May) becomes head of the UK's Tories and enters 10 Downing Street, the Daily Telegraph's Gordon Rayner has a longish story on how Boris Johnson was brought down as front runner for both posts (cheers to Ed Driscoll for the Instalanche).

Incidentally: did you know that Boris is a dual citizen, or, rather, that the then-mayor of London was a dual citizen, until he renounced his U.S. citizenship last year? Can you guess who he had been hounded by into returning his U.S. passport in 2015?
Update: something to think about, when you learn that Theresa May has just made Boris the country's foreign secretary in her new cabinet.
With two hours to go until the launch of Mr Johnson’s leadership bid, [Michael Gove (Sarah Vine's husband)], the man who was supposed to be making up the “dream ticket” with him, had not so much stabbed him in the back as run him through with a pikestaff.

The Telegraph understands that Sir Lynton [Crosby, Mr Johnson’s campaign manager] asked Mr Gove whether he had told Mr Johnson. He had not, but said he intended to. The call, however, was never made.

By noon, Mr Johnson, the front-runner for the Tory leadership, was no longer a runner at all, ousted by what was being called a “cuckoo nest plot”. Having been comprehensively stitched up by his running mate and several other “supporters”, he threw in the towel, his ambitions in ruins. …/…

'Gove is a ----!'

Perhaps Mr Johnson should have seen it coming. The history of the Conservative Party is, after all, littered with the shattered careers of leadership front-runners who were knifed by their colleagues: Maudling, Heath, Heseltine, Clarke, Portillo, Davis. …/…

A 'creepy operation'

“Boris was cavalier with assurances he made,” he said. “We're picking a Prime Minister to lead the country, not a school prefect.” With Mr Boles also gone, one Johnson supporter said: “He hasn’t been double crossed, he has been triple crossed. This seems to have been a pretty well developed, quite creepy operation.”

Sources have told The Telegraph that Mr Gove had told Theresa May about his intention to run even before he told Sir Lynton Crosby, such was the cold-bloodedness of the ambush. …/…

'It makes House of Cards look like Teletubbies'

Her performance was masterful: if anyone doubted Mrs May had the ruthlessness required to be Prime Minister, they would soon have their answer.

She talked about people in Westminster who did not understand what it was like to struggle for money and who needed reminding that politics “isn’t a game”. She was not, she said, a “showy” politician enamoured of “gimmicks” (instantly conjuring an image of Mr Johnson dangling from a zip wire), she did not go drinking in the Commons bars or tour the TV studios, “I just get on with the job in front of me”. No-one needed subtitles to explain who she was referring to.

Mrs May also knows that the most devastating thing you can do to an opponent is to turn them into a laughing stock.  …/…

Johnson-backer Nigel Evans MP was asked whether Mrs May had stabbed Mr Johnson in the front after Mr Gove had stabbed him in the back.

“That’s about it,” he said. “It makes House of Cards look like Teletubbies.”

Over at camp Boris, MPs were withdrawing their support by the minute. The 97 backing him were now down to 47, and Mr Johnson’s team realised they had been undone by what they referred to as a “cuckoo nest plot”. For months Mr Johnson had nurtured Mr Gove’s grand plan for Brexit, only to be kicked out when it finally hatched.

Mr Johnson, feeling “sad, disappointed and betrayed”, according to one source, decided he could not go on.
Related: Boris Johnson's heart not in Brexit, ex-aide Guto Harri says (BBC)