Boris Johnson's WhatsApp messages cast a shadow on the upcoming Covid Inquiry: A prelude to Conservative chaos?

2 June 2023, 09:30

Andy Coulson gave his LBC Views
Andy Coulson gave his LBC Views. Picture: LBC
Andy Coulson

By Andy Coulson

In a fortnight the COVID inquiry will begin – one of the most important in British post-war history. This a rare example of public hearings held fully in the public interest about something that genuinely touched the lives of the entire public.

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And yet a process that should be a beacon for for democracy and accountability, has instead become the platform for another predictable Tory nervous breakdown.

Predictable because sitting at the heart of this latest farce are the WhatsApp messages of Boris Johnson. Almost a year since he left No10 he continues in every public comment and utterance to see no further than the end of his own nose.

Like a pound shop Napoleon he sits in exile convinced that his country still needs him. If only we were all smart enough to understand.

I got another glimpse of the BJ narcissistic operating model when I interviewed Michael Gove for my podcast Crisis What Crisis.

Michael Gove on being fired by Boris, battling with The Blob and the day he almost quit politics.

I asked the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities about the day Boris fired him and he told me that after telling Boris, accurately, that he thought his time was up, he went home.

Michael said: “I was sat with a particular old friend when Boris rang. He said, ‘Look, I’m rearranging the government and all the rest of it, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to step back,’ and so on. And I said, ‘So you’re not going?’ And he said, ‘No, no, I’m afraid you are.’

And there, ladies and gentlemen, you have Boris captured in one simple exchange. When even his closest allies could see clearly that he was surplus to requirements (although some still argued otherwise), the man himself believed they were the problem.

His reaction to the latest allegations around his lockdown behaviour is from the same playbook.

In our podcast conversation, I asked Michael, who I worked with back in the day and always respected if he would ever consider standing for PM himself for a third time.

He said: “No. I have tested that proposition to destruction.”

If only Boris would look in the shaving mirror, draw the same conclusion and get back to his real skill in life … amusing, occasionally insightful speeches and compelling newspaper articles.

Instead, I fear, whatever the Covid inquiry produces, he will be unable to resist continuing to test the BJ comeback proposition, lobbing those trademark cluster grenades whenever the opportunity arises.

By doing so he may well bring the Conservatives to the brink of destruction at the next election.

Andy Coulson is the host of Crisis What Crisis and the Founder of www.coulsonpartners.com.

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