#CurtainsForJohnson? Major Sleaze is surely as good as gone…

Prime Minister’s questions (PMQs) is a pretty shameful bun fight under the slack ‘moderation’ of the hapless, hopeless Hoyle, but today’s (28 April) was easily one of the messiest, with Johnson lashing out like a cornered rat.

We could take you through the catalogue of whoppers, obfuscations and bloviating blusters but, frankly, it’s history. He speaks, he lies. And now the Electoral Commission are onto him. What should happen next is that he resigns. In this crazy, through-the-looking-glass world that is what should happen and , with only the Telegraph left doggedly defending their man, it is almost certainly what will happen. Isn’t it?

Oh, and don’t forget that back in October some were saying that Johnson would resign in six months because he’d privately said he couldn’t live on the PM’s salary…ho hum.

So. Let’s assume he’s gone. Who will get to reside in the Ottoman opulence fest, we wonder? Let’s take a look at the candidates. Please note: this is a quick and dirty summary. We’ll go into more detail in due course.

When Johnson was hospitalised last year, he nominated first secretary of state and foreign secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him. Raab, who often appears to be intellectually challenged by basic issues like the significance of Dover-Calais for our trade, is currently mired in a possible breach of the law himself, with cuts to the Overseas Aid budget without the necessary change in legislation. He’s refusing to produce the legal opinion that says he can extend the cuts with impunity…Grubby.

Michael Gove may (allegedly) be Murdoch’s choice, but he and his poison-pen journalist wife are not popular with the party or the people. He, too, has a chunky back catalogue of Leave lies, broken promises and misrepresentations which could (please!) some day come back to haunt him. Then there’s the whole freedom of information screening thing…also headed for the courts. Not to be trusted. At all.

Liz Truss, who makes Raab look like a bright spark, is the party membership’s favourite, which tells you a lot. The gurning cheese champion has managed to con people into thinking that replicating existing deals and threatening Aussie trade negotiators with uncomfortable chairs mark her out as Thatcher’s successor. Emily Thornberry can dismantle her in under ten seconds, so it might be good news for the opposition if she gets the gig.

Rishi Sunak! Ahh…dishy Rishi, millionaire ‘hero’ of the second Covid-19 wave-inducing ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme and implicated in the Greensill affair. Have you noticed that Rishi has been in hiding for some time? He has utterly failed the 3 million plus excluded from all support in the pandemic and there’s the failure to declare his wife’s huge financial interests. Too many skeletons – like most of the current crew, frankly.

Priti Patel: Would the membership jump at the chance of a bully? The High Court are up for taking a closer look at Johnson’s decision to let her off the hook. And if scruples would not stop members voting for her, their preference for keeping a refugee-hating, protest-loathing, immigrant-bashing authoritarian in post at the Home Office probably means she won’t be a candidate for the top job.

Matt Hancock: Sleaze aplenty: pub mate’s dodgy contract, shares in his sister’s company Topwood which got NHS business…can’t see it happening. Washed-out and washed-up.

Gavin Williamson: Weapons grade stupidity happily paraded by yet another minister with no self-awareness. He’s a twisty one…described by peers as Machiavellian, which is quite some accolade since that implies a sharp and strategic mind. No chance.

Rees-Mogg: Pretty sure he finds life is a good deal more fun on the (relative) fringes and he would have no room to recline if he sat in the PM’s spot. His current role suits him just fine, thank you very much. Callous, grandiose, the haunted pencil is unlikely to make the top spot.

Robert ‘Honest Bob‘ Jenrick? Mr Pork Barrel Politics? Get back in the swamp!

Jeremy Hunt: Has been playing quite a clever long game as the last credible representative of the old one nation Tories. Matt Hancock’s performance as Health Secretary appears to have done a lot to wipe the Hunt’s mucky NHS slate clean…or rather, to overwrite it. It’s been quite easy to look like the good guy in comparison with the current cabal, but would he get support from all the erstwhile Johnson sycophants and place-holders? Doubtful. He is almost certainly the one the opposition would least like to see in the role as he does seem to have more than a veneer of something approaching sanity and rationality.

Long shot: Steve Baker would appeal to all the anti-vaxxer, Brexiter, ‘freedom’ and free market fans. party entryism probably means he has a fair few fans. Probably too few, though.

Getting to the end of this list, I realise that the paucity of untainted, able and suitable replacements may mean that Johnson gets to hang on. Also, if the Conservatives do well in the local elections the party will attempt to ride this out, since it will be assumed that the general public are really not that bothered about honesty or integrity. And then there’s the little matter of Johnson being the final arbiter on Johnson:

What do you think? editor_@westcountrybylines.co.uk