LBC Views: Can Boris Johnson get himself out of this unholy mess?

15 December 2021, 13:43 | Updated: 15 December 2021, 14:03

Iain Dale reflects on the backbench rebellion that threatens the PM's future
Iain Dale reflects on the backbench rebellion that threatens the PM's future. Picture: LBC
Iain Dale

By Iain Dale

If Boris Johnson had fronted up about the Christmas parties from the start, he wouldn't be in this parlous position, Iain Dale writes.

A couple of weeks ago, if anyone had suggested that Boris Johnson's position as Prime Minister would be under threat, I'd have thought they were mad. But the last fortnight has certainly proved that Harold Wilson was on to something when he said 'a week is a long time in politics'. It's been one thing after another to create a perfect storm of difficulties for the Prime Minister. It really comes to something when Ant and Dec become the leading purveyors of political satire.

On Friday evening I went down to the Chip shop in Buxton in Norfolk. As I stood outside waiting to go in, I heard the Chip shop manager declare to his customers: "Boris Johnson has cancelled this year's Downing Street Christmas Party." His staff and the customers in the shop all burst into fits of laughter. Proof if it were needed that the 'party' scandal has cut through with the general public.

On the face of it, it seems preposterous that people are calling for the PM to quit over a party which he didn't attend and may not even have known about. But as we saw with Watergate, the coverup is often worse than the initial deed. If he had fronted up from the start, he wouldn't be in this parlous position.

Then we had the Electoral Commission report into the Downing Street flat refurbishment. Boris Johnson is now accused of not telling the truth to Lord Geidt about what he knew and when he knew it, and also not telling the truth to the House of Commons. Geidt is said to be on the verge of resignation. His predecessor, Sir Alex Allan, resigned when Boris Johnson failed to take his advice over Priti Patel. To lose one ethics adviser is serious, to lose two... well, that would be more than unfortunate.

On Tuesday MPs voted on the new Covid restrictions. Nearly 100 Conservative MPs rebelled and Labour ended up saving the Prime Minister's skin. Embarrassing at the very least. Premiership threatening at the very worst.

And then tomorrow we have the North Shropshire by-election. The Conservatives have a massive 23,000 majority. Anything less than a retention will put the willies up Conservative MPs. Not that it takes much. If they come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister is no longer the electoral asset he once was, and anything is possible.

All governments go though periods where it seems nothing goes right and it's one thing after another. This government is no different. The question is, can Boris Johnson get himself out of this unholy mess of his own creation?

I don't know the answer to that question.